Oney Judge Film in the Works!

The news about an adaption of Oney Judge’s life has made me extremely happy. According to (news site) the film will be based on author and historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar’s book titled, Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge. I’ve heard about this brave woman on multiple occasions and have always thought a film or series about her life (if done correctly) would be awesome. The book was optioned by Lisa Ellis of Provenance Media and Richard Abate of 3 Arts Entertainment and they will co-produce the film.



Oney Judge’s Story: Born on January 1, 1773, Oney "Ona" Judge was a mixed-race slave on George Washington's plantation, Mount Vernon, in Virginia. Ona stands out because she was a favored slave of the first president’s wife Martha. Additionally, she ran away from bondage and was never caught. Her being born to a white indentured servant named Andrew Judge and an enslaved black woman named Betty Davis adds additional layers to Ona’s unique tale. 

Casting: Because Oney is a real person, how she looked should be honored by the filmmakers. There is a runaway slave advertisement that provides a detailed glimpse of what Ona looked like. This should be a guide when casting.



Although there are a few children’s books about her life, I am glad Dunbar’s work was chosen because of the years she dedicated towards research. There are some very good interviews of Dunbar in YouTube discussing Oney Judge and the book she wrote about her life. One of my favorite is a book talk hosted by the Exeter Historical Society and Water Street Bookstore. She goes into detail about Oney’s life and her very own journey to learn more about her. At the 52 minute mark Dunbar discusses how she did not want her writing style to be from the “top down”. Dunbar wrote the book so that the focus and point of view is Oney’s, not Washington’s. I can only hope Hollywood follows her lead with this choice. I want the adaption to be Oney’s story of taking her own freedom, NOT the story of Washington chasing his slave down.


What do you want from a Oney Judge film? 

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