Lilly Ledbetter + local author’s book coming to the big screen

Lilly Ledbetter

The ultimate #girlboss—from Alabama and who had the Fair Pay Act named after her—is having her story turned into a movie. Grace and Grit, written by Lilly Ledbetter and Birmingham journalist and author Lanier Scott Isom, is coming to the big screen in 2023. Keep reading for more details on this upcoming film, LILLY.

Lilly Ledbetter’s powerful story will be on the big screen

Lilly Ledbetter Lilly Ledbetter + local author's book coming to the big screen
Lilly + Rachel. (Rachel Feldman)

Did you know the fair pay icon is from Alabama? From Possum Trot, Lilly Ledbetter grew up in poverty and then became a night supervisor at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in Alabama. But she realized her male coworkers were making 40% more than her, so she filed a charge with the U.S. Equal Employer Opportunity Commission right here in Birmingham and went to court. And then she went to another court and another, eventually ending up at the United States Supreme Court.

Lilly may have lost her case in the Supreme Court, but she never stopped fighting. Her accomplishments include:

  • President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 into law as his first piece of legislation
  • Spoke at the 2008 Democratic National Convention
  • Wrote the book, Grace and Grit, about her experience

“The book was hard and movie will also reveal and open my life up to the public, but many people are struggling to survive. The book and movie will encourage people to make sure they are  treated fairly. Hope it forces laws to be adhered to which will protect workers!

Lilly Ledbetter

Now, her inspiring story is coming to the movies. Of course, a movie about women in the workforce is produced, written and directed by a woman: Rachel Feldman. Plus, Oscar, Emmy, Tony Award and Golden Globe nominee, Patricia Clarkson, will be playing Lilly. Talk about a dream team!

“When I learned of Lilly’s life story it hit every single marker that a great movie needs to have: heartbreak, triumph, a great love story and everything in between.

Every single time Lilly was told no or lost a battle, she got back up and came at the problem from a different direction. Persistence, determination, resilience, these are the messages of the film.”

Rachel Feldman, Director, LILLY

Meet Lanier Scott Isom

Lanier Scott Isom
Meet the author who helped bring Lilly’s story to print. (Lanier Scott Isom)

The journalist and author who helped share Lilly’s story with the world is a Bham native. Inspired by Lilly’s story of resilience, justice and how fair pay isn’t just a women’s issue but a family issue that impacts generations, Lanier met with Lilly. After breaking down Lilly’s walls of being wary of all the journalists knocking on her door, the two decided to write a book together and consider each other family.

Why did you want to help Lilly write her story?

“I wanted to write her story because I’ve always gravitated to the people, places, and character of the South. I’ve always chosen to tell stories that keep me up at night, and especially the ones about the challenges of being a woman. I knew I wanted to show the world how this incredible woman with only a high school education from Possum Trot, Alabama, had a law named after her.

I also wanted to answer the question why Lilly? Of the millions of unfairly paid women across this country, why is she the one with legislation in her honor? I wanted to understand and explore what shaped her and kept her going throughout her career at Goodyear and for the decade long legal battle that followed.”

Lanier Scott Isom

What was it like writing Lilly’s memoir?

lanier and lilly Lilly Ledbetter + local author's book coming to the big screen
A must-read. (Lanier Scott Isom)

“As you can imagine, you have to establish a trust and special connection; otherwise, the collaboration won’t work. Several months into writing the book proposal when I was sending our agent pages to review, she said we had to dig deeper. One winter day when Lilly and I been driving around Possum Trot looking at Lilly’s childhood home and her grandfather’s farm, we stopped at the small family cemetery.

Standing in the cold on her grandfather’s grave, squinting her eyes as she looked across the cemetery to the bare trees scattered on the ridge, Lilly mentioned as casually as if she were commenting on the chilly weather, ‘You know, Tot tried to kill my dog Buzz once, but Edna backed him down with a butcher knife.’ That’s all she said. I didn’t press.

After that moment in the cemetery, I knew Lilly trusted me with the truth of her life. I also knew this had to be one of the opening scenes.”

Lanier Scott Isom

Will you have a role in the production of the movie?

“Yes, for this production, I’m a consultant about all things Lilly and Alabama. Rachel grew up in New York and has lived most of her life in Los Angeles, California, so I help translate our southern ways and speech onto the screen.”

Lanier Scott Isom

After its first run of 20,000 books, Grace and Grit is on its second printing. Make sure you pick up a copy and read Lilly and Lanier’s book and get excited to watch in at the movies.

Stay in the know with all the latest news—sign up for our FREE daily newsletter delivered straight to your inbox.

Selah Vetter
Selah Vetter
Articles: 234