Memphian's story of 'The Mountaintop' heads to Broadway

(WMC-TV) - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of "The Mountaintop" 43 years ago in Memphis at Mason Temple Church of God in Christ, long before playwright and performer Katori Hall was born.

"A lot of people look at me and they're like oh you're a youngin'...what's your personal connection to Dr. King" said Hall.

Hall is a graduate of Columbia University, the American Repertory Theatre Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University, and the Juilliard School's Lila Acheson Wallace play writing program.

She is also a proud member of the Ron Brown Scholar Program, the Coca-Cola Scholar Program, the Dramatists Guild, and the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

Hall says it was Dr. King's last speech that inspired her to write her internationally renown stage play.

"I don't think I would be who I am or where I am without his sacrifices" she added.

'The Mountaintop' received its world premiere in London at Theatre 503 before transferring to Trafalgar Studios in the West End.

The win made her the first black woman in history to win the Olivier Award for Best New Play.

Set at the Lorraine Motel, 'The Mountaintop' is a gripping reimagining of events the night before the assassination of Dr. King.

Image Award winning actor Samuel L. Jackson plays the role of King accompanied by Academy Award nominated actress Angela Bassett.

As a graduate of Craigmont High school in Memphis, Hall said she always had big dreams but started her journey as a journalist.

I use to work for the commercial appeal. I was very determined like 'I'm going to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism like what is the playwrighting thing?'...that didn't come until much much much later" said Hall.

Although 'The Mountaintop' has received countless awards, Hall said seeing a diverse audience at each performance serves her purpose.

"The awards are nice but I think for me the cherry on top is when I look out in the audience and I see a congregation of King's dreams".

Hall said her book can be purchased on Amazon and the play debuts on Broadway in New York City on October 13, 2011.

>>Text WMCNEWS to 56376 to receive breaking news text messages from Action News 5.<<

Copyright 2011 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.