Sterling K. Brown to Star in AFFIRM Films’ True-Life Sports Drama ‘Rise’



Based on the Inspiring True Story,

Coming to Theaters Easter 2020

CULVER CITY, CA (4/4/19) – Emmy® and Golden Globe winner Sterling K. Brown (BLACK PANTHER, This is Us) will play the principal role of Coach Willie Davis in RISE, an inspirational sports drama based on a true story. AFFIRM Films, a Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) company, in partnership with Crystal City Entertainment and Gulfstream Pictures, will begin filming in May in Louisiana with a wide theatrical release on April 10, 2020.

Covered twice in HBO Real Sports feature segments, Willie Davis’ story is a classic example of how ordinary people can impact the lives of those around them in extraordinary ways.

“Sports films typically teach us something more than just ‘sports’. They leave us with a better understanding and knowledge of ourselves and what it takes to live our best life and lift up those around us, no matter the circumstances.” said Rich Peluso, Executive Vice President and Head of AFFIRM Films.

Director Kevin Rodney Sullivan states “Willie Davis is a true American hero. I’m honored to tell his story on film and there’s nothing better than having Sterling K. Brown play the role.”

Willie Davis, a junior high school janitor, seized the opportunity to head coach the school’s basketball team as the school was weighing the decision to cancel the program due to funding concerns. No one else could be found to coach the lackluster team that had won only four games in two years. “The Lord, books and basketball.” Coach Davis, from the very beginning teaches his team of junior high kids these priorities in life, who they need to be and what they need to do in order to be successful on and off the basketball court. Almost immediately, Coach Willie becomes the role model for many of the kids in the school and surrounding community, as they make an amazing run at the state championship.

“We have always been fascinated by stories that illustrate how one person can change the trajectory of a life or a community and Willie had that impact on the people he coached. His story is about recognizing the deep value in everyone.” said Ari Pinchot of Crystal City Entertainment.

“Willie’s story inspired and moved us the very first time we heard it. We are thrilled to be working with AFFIRM Films and Crystal City Entertainment. We all believe Kevin Rodney Sullivan is the perfect director to be bringing this story to life for a wide audience.” said Mike Karz and Bill Bindley of Gulfstream Pictures.

Directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan (GUESS WHO, HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK) and produced by Ari Pinchot, Stuart Avi Savitsky, Mike Karz and Bill Bindley. The film stars Sterling K. Brown (BLACK PANTHER, This is Us) with a screenplay by Randy Brown and Gregory Allen Howard.

Sterling K. Brown, who will next be lending his voice to Sony’s animated ANGRY BIRDS 2 (August 16), recently launched his production company Indian Meadows Productions. Later this year, he will star in the feature films THE RHYTHM SECTION and WAVES. He will also lend his voice to Disney’s highly anticipated animated FROZEN 2 in November of this year.

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About AFFIRM Films
AFFIRM Films produces, acquires and markets films that inspire, uplift and entertain audiences around the world. Since releasing its first theatrical film—The Kendrick Brothers’ drama FACING THE GIANTS, in 2007, AFFIRM Films has released numerous quality faith-based films including SOUL SURFER, COURAGEOUS, WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL, WAR ROOM (which hit No. 1 on the domestic box office chart), RISEN, FIREPROOF, ALL SAINTS, PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST and was the faith-based marketing partner with Columbia Pictures and TriStar Pictures for their films MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN and HEAVEN IS FOR REAL. AFFIRM also released the animated film, THE STAR, in partnership with Sony Pictures Animation and Columbia Pictures.

AFFIRM Films will release the highly anticipated next Kendrick Brothers’ film OVERCOMER on August 23, 2019. Now in production is the sports drama based on the true story, RISE. Coming to theaters on April 10, 2020. AFFIRM Films is a division of Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions (SPWA), a Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) company.

About Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sony Pictures Entertainment
(SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment Inc., which is a subsidiary of Tokyo- based Sony Corporation. SPE’s global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition, and distribution; television production, acquisition, and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services and technologies. SPE’s Motion Picture Group production organizations include Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Stage 6 Films, AFFIRM Films, and Sony Pictures Classics. For additional information, visit

About Crystal City Entertainment
Crystal City Entertainment is a production and finance company. Past credits include: EVERYTHING MUST GO, THE IDES OF MARCH, LEE DANIELS: THE BUTLER, INFINITELY POLAR BEAR. CCE recently wrapped production on THE GOD COMMITTEE starring Kelsey Grammer and Julia Stiles, and has upcoming productions such as, THE BOOKSELLER with Julia Roberts and VAN CLIBURN with Ansel Elgort.

About Gulfstream Pictures
Gulfstream Pictures is a Warner Bros.-based development, financing and production company headed by Mike Karz and Bill Bindley. Formed in 2012, Gulfstream is funded by Korea-based 3D stereoscopic leader Redrover Co., Ltd., and a consortium of U.S. private equity funds. The company’s films include the Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore comedy, BLENDED, the Garry Marshall ensemble MOTHER’S DAY and THE NUT JOB animated features. Their next release is the Netflix coming of age comedy, “The Last Summer.”

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