Casting

Steal Away will feature a colorful kaleidoscope of unforgettable characters that will take your breath away, and the strongest African-American female lead in cinema history, portraying the blazing heroine Ella Sheppard.  Just as David O. Selznick auditioned talent across America in search of his Scarlett O’Hara for his epic Gone With the Wind, Realm is launching a global casting call to discover not only our Ella Sheppard, but Steal Away’s entire cast.  Casting announcements and decisions will be posted alternatively on      so for breaking news be sure to follow Steal Away on all four.  And so…

who will play

Ella Sheppard

African-American, 20

A brilliant musical prodigy (piano), the co-leader of the Jubilee Singers choir, and the towering young heroine of this movie.  From the opening scene to the last, Steal Away is Ella’s story.  A reluctant beauty, she is slender and petite with a softly chiseled face, wide probing eyes, and beguiling if rarely seen smile.  Though by appearances frail, we will see that looks are dramatically deceiving: Charged with saving African–American schools, (the fledgling HBCUs), from supremacist destruction, she is unstoppable, unsinkable, a tireless warrior that takes no prisoners and suffers no fools, powered by a force of will that could stop a planet.  Yet haunted by the sins of her past, her deepest crusade is for redemption.  And though tough as nails to most, there’s one man whose kiss destroys her every time.  Wallace and Ella are star-crossed lovers from violently far-flung worlds: Ella is staking her life on a colorblind future, while the brutal murder of Wallace’s family by supremacists has made him a raging militant.  Their war-torn love is a powder keg set to explode.a brilliant musical prodigy (piano), the co-leader of the Jubilee Singers choir, and the towering young heroine of this movie.  From the opening scene to the last, Steal Away is Ella’s story.  A reluctant beauty, she is slender and petite with a softly chiseled face, wide probing eyes, and beguiling if rarely seen smile.  Though by appearances frail, we will see that looks are dramatically deceiving: Charged with saving African–American schools, (the fledgling HBCUs), from supremacist destruction, she is unstoppable, unsinkable, a tireless warrior that takes no prisoners and suffers no fools, powered by a force of will that could stop a planet.  Yet haunted by the sins of her past, her deepest crusade is for redemption.  And though tough as nails to most, there’s one man whose kiss destroys her every time.  Wallace and Ella are star-crossed lovers from violently far-flung worlds: Ella is staking her life on a colorblind future, while the brutal murder of Wallace’s family by supremacists has made him a raging militant.  Their war-torn love is a powder keg set to explode.

George White

Caucasian, 50

The warmly endearing hero of this story and passionate co-leader of the Jubilee Singers choir. As the story opens, White is a beloved but failed visionary whom life has dealt harsh blows, including the tragic death of his wife, which still ravages him with guilt. Yet the dreamer in him lives. Tousled and unshaven with faraway eyes and an otherworldly air, White is far too captivated by visions of a world healed by music to think about trifles like grooming. A misfit among “his own people,” White is a beloved father figure to the African-American choir, his only true family. Though cruelly condemned as a blind stargazer, when the forces of supremacist hate wage terrorist warfare on black schools, White and his choir heroically rise up and fight back not with bullets or bombs but sensational songs of faith and freedom… the spirituals. Against all odds, they take the country, and world, by storm. And though White will be brutally battered by forces both external and internal, and brought to the brink of destruction, we will witness in this legendary man a towering visionary and triumphal hero whose courage, sacrifice, and passion set the world ablaze and left it forever changed.

Wallace Moore

African American, 23

Tall, strapping, handsome.  And a hardcore militant.  Wallace was once a shy, tender, boy, but the brutal murder of his family by supremacists has made him a raging militant.  Coarse, crass, and full of gansta swagger, Wallace believes “his people have no future among whites.”  Yet beyond his veneer of hate, we glimpse in his eyes the deep heartbreak of a tender boy’s loss, and a lifetime of unshed tears.  To his great exasperation, the woman he hopelessly loves – the prim, refined Ella, who’s staking her life on an integrated, colorblind future – is siding with the enemy.  Star-crossed lovers from violently far-flung worlds, Wallace and Ella’s impossible love is a ticking time bomb.

Susan Gilbert

Caucasian, 40s

A crackerjack operative for the American Missionary Association, Susan is a bold, beautiful, badass operative sporting aggressive pinstripes.  Or perhaps prisoned by them.  Raised to be an achiever from her youth, Susan has done the right thing all her life with such relentlessly intensity that now at middle-age, she’s spectacularly successful but alone.  Empty.  Unsure why to get out of bed every morning.  Beyond her tough veneer, her vulnerable, searching eyes betray an imprisoned dreamer desperate to break free.  Falling in love with visionary George White liberates her to begin “living out loud.”  But vulnerability is a double-edged sword, and as hostile forces set Susan and White increasingly against each other, that sword will pierce her heart.

Her Majesty Queen Victoria

White, 50-65 (visually), the Queen of England

When we meet Victoria, she’s dressed in widow’s black and in a very foul mood.  Twelve years after her beloved husband’s death, she’s still bitterly inconsolable.  But when the Jubilee Singers sing for her the deeply moving spirituals her late husband cherished, Victoria’s heart melts, unleashing long unshed tears.  A very strong cameo role.

Milo Cravath

Caucasian, 60s

An imposing, notoriously unsentimental, militant abolitionist.  Civil rights crusader Cravath is the fearsome Director of the American Missionary Association.  His lifelong war against Southern supremacism and their armies of terror have shaped him into a hard-charging war hawk that some liken to Genghis Khan.  A do-or-die commander in a just and dire war, winning the war against supremacist hate at absolutely any cost is everything to Cravath – he’d march his closest ally into cannon fire if it would advance the cause.  But though an enemy of oppression, Cravath’s take-no-prisoners crusade to win the war against bigotry mercilessly enslaves the African-American choir singing for his cause, driving them to the brink of death and making him look like the very enemy he’s fighting.  We’d be forgiven for judging Cravath heartless and uncaring, but his intensely sensitive eyes and moving backstory tell a far deeper story…

"Bishop" Adam Sheolgate

White, plays 40 then 60

A hatemongering supremacist preacher, Sheolgate opens the movie as the brutal master of our young protagonists, murdering little Wallace’s parents, bludgeoning his own son Myron to teach him to hate, and pronouncing a searing curse on three-year-old Ella that will haunt her for life.  Twenty years later, Sheolgate and Myron, now his hate-filled protégé, are leaders of the terrorist Knights of the Southern Cross

Myron Sheolgate

Caucasian, 25

The son of a brutal, slave-owning preacher.  Once a sweet little boy raised by a motherly slave woman he deeply loved, young Myron’s father beat and battered him mercilessly and trained him to hate.  Today, his once-boyish face riddled with abusive welts and his blue eyes blistering with hate, he is a hellfire preacher and supremacist leader.  Yet beyond the hateful veneer, we glimpse in his aching eyes the heartbreak of a small boy whose youth and heart were cruelly stolen.

Hiram Jackson

African-American, 40

Hiram is a beloved charismatic preacher, nationally renowned civil rights leader, and outspoken champion of the pending Civil Rights Bill whose impassioned sermons electrify the masses.  He has a warm lovefest bond with Ella and the Jubilee Singers choir.  When the forces of supremacist hate unleash a reign of terror against black schools, (the fledgling HBCUs), Hiram runs for political office, becoming the great hope of the cause of freedom…and putting himself in the deadly crosshairs of his rabid enemies.

Jonas Stone

Black, 35-55, English, written as male but could be female.

Publisher of an activist, pro-Black, power-to-the-people civil rights newspaper in London, Stone presents himself to the Jubilee Singers as a fellow crusader of their civil rights cause.  Sleekly attired, well-spoken, impeccably groomed and spangled with jewels, Stone is polish personified.  His magnetic eyes, (blue, ideally), rare for a black man, shimmer like crystal pools.  Why then do those hypnotic eyes unsettle us?

Clifford Vetter

Caucasian (or other ethnicity), 45

English, written as male but could be female.  Vetter is a sneering, venomous, power-hungry prosecutor whose only joy is inflicting misery.  Bitterly spiteful towards anything smacking of religion, the hated but powerful Vetter sets his/her daggers on Ella and the Jubilee Singers, who have brought the spirituals to England.  Accusing them of embezzlement and fraud, he launches an explosive witch-hunt against them and furiously vows to dungeon them all.

Havell

Ethnically ambiguous, 45-55, of indeterminate national origin.

The colorful, curious Havell is a high maintenance, asexually flamboyant London painter commissioned by Queen Victoria to paint the Jubilee Singers’ portrait.  A snarky, taste mongering fashionista with a Dali moustache, bizarre foreign accent, and mauve staining rag he literally slings from a holster, Havell is quite the character.  Although he takes himself deadly seriously, his very presence is comic relief.  By the end of the movie, we’ve come to love this strange, endearing peacock.