Patti Perret/Amazon Studios
Award-Winning actress Regina King is taking a turn behind the camera for the first time with her directorial debut One Night in Miami, which is premiering Sept. 7 at the Venice Film Festival.
The film, based on Kemp Powers' stage play of the same name, is a fictional take on a true event: On Feb. 25, 1964, after Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) beat boxing world champ Sonny Liston at the Miami Convention Center, he spent the evening celebrating with his three good friends: NFL football star Jim Brown, singer Sam Cooke, and nation of Islam leader Malcolm X.
The foursome would go on to play pivotal roles in the civil rights era, and the story imagines what they spoke about, and how they emerged from that hotel room that night "ready to define a new world."
King and the film's stars won't be in attendance due to Covid.
King, who recently won an Oscar for If Beale Street Could Talk and is currently up for an Emmy for her turn in The Watchmen, says she's a self-taught director, but she learned from working with the best.
"I have been in the presence of a lot of amazing directors," she tells PEOPLE, noting that she's been working in Hollywood for 30 years and was able to ask advice from some of the most famous creative minds in the business. "That has been the best resource anyone could have."
One Night in Miami stars Kingsley Ben-Adir (High Fidelity) as Malcolm X, Aldis Hodge (Hidden Figures) as Jim Brown, Eli Goree (Riverdale) as boxer Cassius Clay, and Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton) as Sam Cooke.
"All of those actors were aware of the enormous responsibility they had," King says of portraying such famous real-life characters. "And they did not take it lightly. And so I couldn't see any body else playing these roles." She adds of the four real-life friends, "While they were individuals, they were brothers. And they all had a similar thing about them, which is the biggest thing about them. They were black men in America."
One Night in Miami will be released on Amazon later this year.