Rising star Millicent Simmonds from A Quiet Place and Rachel Brosnahan from Marvelous Mrs. Maisel will star in Helen & Teacher from director Wash Westmoreland (Still Alice).
Simmonds will play the famous deaf/blind activist Helen Keller, and Brosnahan will play Keller’s dedicated yet controlling translator and companion Anne Sullivan.
Simmonds, who is deaf herself, is actually a distant cousin of Keller and a disabilities rights advocate. Over the years, most versions of Keller’s story starred non-deaf actors, and so with Helen & Teacher, the decision to cast a deaf actress heads in the right direction for the visibility of deaf/blind actors in popular media.
The script for Helen & Teacher was written by Laetitia Mikles and Westmoreland in collaboration with a team from the Helen Keller National Center for Youth and Adults.
Set in the early 1900s, the film will follow Keller during her turbulent time at Harvard University’s Radcliffe College, when her quickly expanding worldview and sexual awakening put her in direct confrontation with the more traditional Sullivan. When Ms. Sullivan is courted by John Macy, a young and talented publisher, tensions between the two women rise, jeopardizing their friendship.
“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. 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,” said Westmoreland.
Principal photography is set to commence in the summer of 2022.