Millicent Simmonds is set to play a trailblazing icon in her follow-up to “A Quiet Place Part II.” She’s teaming up with Rachel Brosnahan, the Emmy-winning star of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” for “Helen & Teacher,” a drama based on the relationship between Deafblind activist Helen Keller and her translator and companion, teacher Annie Sullivan. A press release announced that sales for the pic are commencing at the American Film Market, which launches November 1.
Based on a screenplay by Laetitia Mikles (“Touched”) and the film’s director, Wash Westmoreland (“Still Alice”), the film is being made in consultation with a team at Helen Keller National Center for Youth and Adults. “Helen & Teacher” is set in the early 1900s and “follows Ms. Keller’s tumultuous time at Radcliffe College of Harvard University when her rapidly expanding worldview and sexual awakening brings her into direct conflict with the more conservative Ms. Sullivan. When Ms. Sullivan is courted by the young and brilliant publisher, John Macy, tensions escalate between the two women threatening the bonds of their friendship,” the film’s synopsis teases.
“Most people only know of Helen Keller’s story from when she was a child. ‘Helen & Teacher’ will look at her as a young adult when she developed a radical, world-changing political voice,” said Westmoreland. “Today, when some TikTok threads dispute Helen Keller’s achievements and even her existence, it is time for a film that shows her relevance, her brilliance, and her unbreakable spirit.”
Simmonds made her big screen debut in “Wonderstruck.” “Growing up, I never thought about becoming an actress because I never saw deaf people in TV or movies. I didn’t think it was possible,” Simmonds wrote in a 2018 Teen Vogue op-ed. She emphasized, “I hope our stories continue to give people an insight into something that maybe they didn’t understand before. I hope seeing people like me on screen inspires more people to chase their own dreams, and shows deaf kids anything is a possibility for them because I really don’t feel like my deafness was an obstacle or should be a big deal. I’m an actress. I’m also deaf. I like to read. There’s a lot more to me than just being deaf.”
Brosnahan will reprise her titular role in the upcoming fourth season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” an Amazon Prime comedy about a housewife turned stand-up comedian. “I’m Your Woman,” “The Finest Hours,” and “House of Cards” are among her other credits.