Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years (film)
Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years is a 1999 American television film directed by Lynne Littman. The film is an adaptation of the 1993 novel Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years written by Sarah Louise Delany (nicknamed "Sadie"), Annie Elizabeth Delany, and journalist Amy Hill Hearth. The telefilm adaptation was written by Emily Mann, who also adapted the book to the Broadway stage (1995). The film first aired on CBS on April 18, 1999, just three months after Sadie died.
The daughters of a former slave who became the first Black person elected Bishop in the Episcopal Church in the United States, the sisters were Civil Rights pioneers but were unknown until journalist Amy Hill Hearth interviewed them for a feature story in The New York Times in 1991. The sisters were then 100 and 102 years old.
Sadie, the older of the sisters, was the first Black person permitted to teach Domestic Science at the high school level in the New York City public schools. Bessie was the second black woman licensed to practice dentistry in New York State. The biopic deals with the trials and tribulations they faced during a century of life. The sisters share their stories with Ms. Hearth, the journalist (and later, the co-author of their book). Pivotal scenes are re-enacted through flashbacks.
- Diahann Carroll ..... Sadie Delany
- Ruby Dee ..... Bessie Delany
- Amy Madigan ..... Amy Hill Hearth
- Lisa Arrindell Anderson ..... Young Sadie
- Audra McDonald ..... Young Bessie
- Mykelti Williamson ..... Papa Delany
- Lonette McKee ..... Mama Delany
- Richard Roundtree ..... Booker T. Washington
- Della Reese ..... Martha Logan
Principal production credits
- Executive Producers ..... Camille O. Cosby, Jeffrey S. Grant, Judith James
- Original Music ..... Terence Blanchard, Dennis McCarthy
- Cinematography ..... Frank Byers
- Production Design ..... Charles C. Bennett
- Art Direction ..... Jennifer O'Kelly
- Set Decoration ..... Summer Eubanks
- Costume Design ..... Rita Riggs
Ron Wertheimer of The New York Times called the film "clearly a labor of love . . . an engrossing drama built on characters who are at once exceptional and accessible . . . Ms. Carroll and Ms. Dee embody the sisters in middle and old age. Their performances occasionally threaten to glide into caricature but more often capture the women's complementary strengths and frailties and their extraordinary bond."
In his review in Variety, David Kronke said, "Anchored by two excellent performances by Diahann Carroll and Ruby Dee, this is a solidly affecting telepic that rarely preaches or hits a false note . . . By film's end, the viewer feels there truly is a history between these two characters. Supporting performances are strong, with Lonette McKee a standout as the sisters' mother."
Awards and nominations
- Peabody Award for Excellence in Television (winner)
- Writers Guild of America Award (nominee)
- Christopher Award for Outstanding TV and Cable Programming (winner)
- NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special (Ruby Dee and Diahann Carroll, nominees)
- NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special (nominee)