In the 1992 classic sports comedy-drama A League of Their Own, Tom Hanks’s character Jimmy Dugan, the manager of the women’s professional baseball team the Rockford Peaches, shouts the iconic line, “There’s no crying in baseball” — catapulting the movie into cinematic history.
More than known for just great lines and performances by Hanks, as well as actresses Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell, and Madonna, the film is also beloved as a narrative celebrating feminism and womanhood.
In a new adaptation — a television series on Amazon Prime that premieres Friday — A League of Their Own will also share more queer stories as well of that of Max Chapman, a Black woman played by actress Chanté Adams who joins the team after initially being turned away because of her race.
“Max is actually based off of three real Negro League players, Connie Morgan, Toni Stone, and Mamie Johnson,” Adams says in an interview with Metro Times. “And so to be able to kind of, you know, just shed light on their stories and bring their experiences to the small screen means a whole lot.”
She adds, “I’m really honored to be in this position to, you know, be able to talk about them, and to also just provide that representation for all of those little Black girls in sports, all of those queer Black people who are in sports or just or just living life — we need to be able to see that on screen.”
In the original film, there is a scene of a Black woman throwing a ball to Davis’s character. “Everyone remembers that scene, but it was only 10 seconds long,” Adams says. “And that lady had no lines. But that was a nod to the fact that Black women were not allowed in that league. But that doesn’t mean that Black women didn't play baseball — they did.”
A native Detroiter and graduate of Cass Tech High School, Adams says that her hometown definitely shaped her career. “First of all, I take all of Detroit with me, everywhere I go — even when I try not to,” she says. “That’s the beautiful thing about our city.”
She adds, “But my hustle comes from Detroit, the way that I work my work ethic. It comes from Detroit, like everything about me, I am a Midwestern Detroiter through and through. I love my city, I love my people, my community. And honestly, I work hard because I want to be able to hear stuff like, ‘We're so proud of you.’”
Adams notes that it's important for her to be able to be representative to Detroiters who aspire to be in the film industry. She adds that when she comes home, she still stays with her parents in her childhood bedroom.
“It’s like a time capsule,” she says. “There are still Twilight posters on the walls,” she adds with a laugh. She says that she loves to visit Belle Isle and try to eat at a Coney Island, although she is now vegan.
Adams got her big break after graduating from the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama and moving to New York City — within days she scored the role of’ ’80s rap icon Roxanne Shante in the 2017 drama Roxanne, Roxanne. She has since starred in The Photograph and opposite Michael B. Jordan in A Journal for Jordan.
“My career revolves around me choosing roles about complex, dynamic Black women, but also bringing stories that we haven’t heard before to the forefront, especially when those stories are inspired by real life events,” she says. Her next project is a Netflix limited series called Man In Full where she will star with and be directed by Regina King.
But, as far as A League of Their Own, she hopes that people take away a more well-rounded examination of women in baseball in the 1940s and ’50s. “We aren’t remaking the film,” she says. “We are reimagining it with the same spirit and the same joy that comes from the film, we’re just telling it with new new faces and new characters.”
She adds that the series’s stars and creators hope that people will take away the message of “#FindYourTeam.”
“It’s just about the importance of your chosen family, or your biological one, too,” she says. “Just having those people that love and support you unconditionally and really push you toward your dreams, even when you feel like giving up and how important it is, just to have that camaraderie and that village behind you.”