Throughout his entire career London-born actor Idris Elba has used his craft as an avenue to bring narratives about Black pioneers to the big screen. Six years after playing the role of South African revolutionary Nelson Mandela in the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Elba will now star in a movie about the unsung stories of Philadelphia’s Black cowboys, Deadline reported.
The film—titled Concrete Cowboys—is centered on the Fletcher Street Stables. Fletcher Street is a Black horsemanship community that has been in existence for over a century. It was cultivated as an outlet to help Black men and boys escape communities plagued by violence and crime and learn about the importance of discipline and responsibility. The film follows the journey of a teen who was sent to live with his father in North Philly. While adjusting to the new environment and bearing witness to the impact of gentrification and poverty, the teen discovers the community’s urban cowboy culture and explores how horse riding is used to escape the dire circumstances faced by those in the neighborhood.
Concrete Cowboys is loosely based on a book penned by author Greg Neri titled Ghetto Cowboy. Actors Caleb McLaughlin, Jharrel Jerome, Byron Bowers, and Lorraine Toussaint star alongside Elba in the film. The film is being produced by Elba’s production company Green Door Pictures, Tucker Tooley Entertainment, and Lee Daniels Entertainment. Ricky Staub will serve as the film’s director. “Idris had expressed a desire to be involved in projects uplifting to the African American community,” Staub told Philly Mag in an interview. “Idris has a huge heart in wanting to uplift new voices and to make an impact on the community.”
As for the real-life “Concrete Cowboys,” they’re excited to see the story be transformed into a film. Ika Bradford says Fletcher Street Stables has forever impacted his life. “I had my time and share of doing this and doing that, all the bad things that ended me up in jail. Just being around the horses keep me calm,” he told ABC 6. “Just have something to do. Stay out of trouble. Take your mind out of things in the hood, they’re playing basketball in the hood, but there’s nothing like a horse stable, I’ll tell you that.”
The film is currently in production and there is no word on when it is slated to be released.