Oprah Winfrey to Portray 'Annie Lee Cooper' in Ava DuVernay's SELMA

Oprah Winfrey to Portray 'Annie Lee Cooper' in Ava DuVernay's SELMAIndiewire reports that Oprah Winfrey has joined the cast of Ava DuVernay's SELMA in the role of Annie Lee Cooper. It was previously reported that the actress would serve as a producer on the film. Priniciple photography is currently underway on the project.

Winfrey will join previously announced cast members David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr., Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King, Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon B. Johnson, Ledisi as Mahalia Jackson, Keith Stanfield as Jimmie Lee Jackson, Henry G. Sanders playing Cager Lee, Jimmie Lee Jackson's grandfather, Andre Holland as Andrew Young, Tessa Thompson as Diane Nash, Niecy Nash as play Richie Jean Jackson, wife of Dr. Sullivan Jackson, who will be played by Kent Faulcon. The film is from Brad Pitt's Plan B and Christian Colson.

Annie Lee Cooper was a "civil rights hero, who gained notoriety in 1965 for a confrontation with then Sheriff James G. Clark, outside the Dallas County (in Selma) courthouse, where she was attempting to register to vote. The 54-year-old was ordered to go home by the Sheriff and then poked her in the back of the neck with either a billy club or a cattle prod, which prompted her to turn around and deliver a solid right hook to the sheriff's jaw, dropping him to the ground."

Cooper was then arrested and charged with assault, and attempted murder. Newspapers from the time said she was detained in jail for 11 hours. During that time, Martin Luther King Jr. made a historic speech in Brown Chapel in which he said of Cooper, "This is what happened today: Mrs. Cooper was down in that line, and they haven't told the press the truth about it. Mrs. Cooper wouldn't have turned around and hit Sheriff Clark just to be hitting. And of course, as you know, we teach a philosophy of not retaliating and not hitting back, but the truth of the situation is that Mrs. Cooper, if she did anything, was provoked by Sheriff Clark. At that moment, he was engaging in some very ugly business-as-usual action. This is what brought about that scene there."

Cooper died at the age of 100 in 2010.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos