Black History Month

'How Could We Not Tell Her Story?': Film Boss Pays Tribute To Mary Seacole

The head of the filmmaking company tasked with telling the story of Mary Seacole said he initially thought the script was "embellished", before learning more about the war heroine.

Having been refused for a nursing role by the War Office during the outbreak of the Crimean War, Seacole set up her own treatment facility for wounded soldiers and funded her stay in Crimea until 1856.

Speaking to Forces News ahead of the release of ‘Seacole’, Billy Peterson, CEO at Racing Green Pictures, admitted he had thought proposals for the film were "totally scripted".

A black woman born in 1805 to a Scottish soldier and a Jamaican mother, her service earned her status among military groups – with her achievements set to be acknowledged on-screen next year.

"I did a little research and I realised, ‘My gosh, this is an actual person who existed'," Mr Peterson told Forces News during Black History Month.

"Looking at her life I thought, ‘How could we not tell her story?’"

Seacole went on to "ultimately win the respect" of Florence Nightingale, known as the founder of modern nursing for her feats during the war, according to Mr Peterson.

Bust of Mary Seacole
A bust of Mary Seacole was purchased by Billy Peterson this year and could appear in the drama.

Service personnel raised money for Ms Seacole when she struggled to make ends meet after the war, a four-day fundraising gala on the River Thames in 1857 attracting roughly 80,000 – including members of the Royal Family.

She died in 1881 and was voted 'Greatest Black Briton' in an online poll in 2004.

Ms Seacole will be played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw in the upcoming historical drama, which focuses on the period following the death of Seacole’s husband in 1844.

Mr Peterson, who recently purchased a bust of Seacole for £101,000 - more than 100 times its estimated sale price, said her story "deserves its moment on the screen".

COVID-19 delayed the completion of the filming, but plans are in motion for its release in 2021.

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