Harlem Nun Sues Disney

Harlem Nun Sues Disney

Harlem nun Delois Blakely sues Disney over claims the studio stole "Sister Act" from her.

Published November 14, 2011

Better late than never? Nearly 20 years after Whoopi Goldberg's divine comedy Sister Act hit theaters, a Harlem area nun is suing Walt Disney Co. and Sony Pictures, who produced the film, claiming the studios stole the idea for the film from her autobiography.


In court papers, Delois Blakely describes herself as a "young, Black, singing nun serving the street people and youths of Harlem." She published the autobiography, The Harlem Street Nun in 1987, says the Hollywood Reporter.


Later that year, Blakely claims she shopped around a three-page synopsis of her book to various film executives, including Tri-Star Pictures producer Cynthia Bowles, who sent Blakely a letter expressing interest in the film rights.


According to Blakely's claims, a short time later producer Scott Rudin took a project that would eventually become Sister Act from Tri-Star to Disney, and went on to produce the film that would gross more than $230 million at the box office, as well as yield a sequel and a Broadway production.


Blakely was profiled in the New York Times in 2003 as Harlem's Queen Mother. She's now demanding an injunction against the studios involved with Sister Act as well as "equitable relief." Her case will likely be helped by the fact that Goldberg's character in Sister Act is named ... Deloris. 


Who knows why it took Blakely 20 years to file her suit, but given the strength of her case, studio bosses are likely praying for a statute of limitations.



(Photo: Andrew Serban/Getty Images)

Written by Smriti Mundhra


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