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Kentucky author’s book made into Netflix movie ‘Juanita’

April 1, 2018

NEWPORT, Ky. (AP) — Netflix’s star-studded movie “Juanita” owes its existence to Newport author Sheila Williams.

Williams wrote the book “Juanita” is based upon — “Dancing on the Edge of the Roof” — back in 2002. Netflix picked up rights to Williams’ book in 2017.

“This is my first published book and yes, it’s been made into a film,” Williams said. “And I still do not believe it.”

There is no release date yet for “Juanita.” Williams expects to see the movie, which is in post-production, this year. Variety and other film news sites have written about “Juanita.”

Directing “Juanita” is Clark Johnson of “Homeland” and “The Wire.” Production started in Virginia in April 2016.

Alfre Woodard of “12 Years a Slave,” Blair Underwood and Adam Beach will star in the independent film.

“Juanita,” just like Williams’ book, starts with a character frustrated with average day-to-day life problems. The book and movie both start in Williams’ hometown of Columbus.

“She decides she’s going to leave, and she does,” Williams said. “She packs a bag.”

The movie and book are not autobiographical, she said.

The beginning of the book does come from Williams’ own life working as a professional while still living in Columbus.

“I started the book when I was on a day that all of us had where everything that can go south does,” Williams said.

The shirt for the day wasn’t ironed. The car had no gas. She found out she had a new boss and her department was being reorganized.

“I had one of those days and I remember it distinctly,” she said.

Williams called her husband and asked him to pick up their youngest child from daycare.

“He said ‘When will you be home?’ I said, ‘Oh about two or three months,’” Williams said.

That’s when her husband knew it was a bad day, too. Instead of leaving town, Williams decided to write. She has lived in Newport since 1999. She has two dogs. She is working as a full-time author.

Here’s how IMDb, the entertainment database, describes “Juanita”:

“Fed up with her deadbeat grown kids and marginal urban existence, Juanita takes a Greyhound bus to Paper Moon, Montana where she reinvents herself and finds her mojo.”

Williams got to sit in on the set of “Juanita,” not asking too many questions. Williams said she was thrilled to see actors become the characters she had envisioned. She describes her involvement in “Juanita” as limited. The film’s screenwriter is Roderick M. Spencer, actress Woodard’s husband.

“I recognize that when someone is adapting your work it becomes a new animal, it becomes a hybrid of sorts,” she said. “I was willing to take a back seat and not be a pain in their butt.”

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Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com

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