Tonya Lewis Lee walked away from Washington with at least one high-level fan for her new flick.
The writer/producer, married to director Spike Lee, is behind a new Hallmark Channel movie, "The Watsons Go to Birmingham," a kid-friendly, made-for-TV film about the civil rights era. Earlier this week, she and her hubby attended a Capitol Hill ceremony awarding the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously to the four girls killed 50 years ago in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Ala.
"It was very much a bittersweet day in that it's just really wonderful to hear all the Members of Congress talk about the sacrifice the girls made and to see a clear, bipartisan, unanimous frontline on the face that these four little girls lost their lives," Lewis Lee told Whispers.
At the event, Lewis Lee chatted with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., about her film project.
"I did get a chance to talk to Nancy Pelosi and she was asking how we were connected to this event and I mentioned that I produced 'The Watsons Go to Birmingham,'" Lewis Lee said. "And she was saying that she would like her grandchildren to be able to see that – so she was hoping to see it – so if they don't get a chance to tune in on September 20, I will definitely be sending her a copy of the film."
The film, based on a book of the same name, follows a black family living in Flint, Mich., on their summer vacation to Birmingham, Ala. "It was just funny and quirky and yet the family ends up in the heart of the civil rights movement," she said. "I think it's a unique perspective, a way of making history relatable for young people."
Now, the film will debut almost exactly 50 years after the church bombing took place, a major plot point in the movie.
"I wish I could say that we planned it this way, but we've been trying to get this film made for nine years and we would have loved to have had it available and out nine, five, four years ago," Lewis Lee explained. "It just so happened that all the pieces finally came together that it would be ready for the 50th anniversary – it was born when it was supposed to be born."
"The Watsons Go to Birmingham," will premiere Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. on the Hallmark Channel.