Chanté Adams, Abbi Jacobson talk showcasing Black, LGBTQ+ characters in ‘A League of Their Own’ series

Adams plays Max Chapman, whose character is a fusion of Black female baseball players in American history.

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“A League of Their Own” is back! The beloved 1992 film inspired a new series airing this week on Prime Video, and theGrio caught up with show creator, and star, Abbi Jacobson and her co-star Chanté Adams. The two talked about the inspiration behind the series and discussed how the series portrays Black and LGBTQ+ women of the 1940s and ’50s with a depth the film couldn’t.

While the era of the reboot is alive and well, an exciting development in this current era of television has been the trend to “reimagine” rather than “revive.” Abbi Jacobson and Will Graham’s “A League of Their Own” epitomizes that trend.

“I’m so excited,” Jacobson said. “It’s people’s favorite movie, so there’s a lot of pressure…but I feel really good and positive! There’s a common misconception where people are like, ‘you shouldn’t remake the movie!’ It’s like, ‘Chill, we’re not!’ The movie actually will be available whenever you want to watch it! It’s not like the show comes out, and the movie goes away.”

(left to right) Chanté Adams (Max) and Abbi Jacobson (Carson; co-creator and executive producer)
(Photo credit: Amazon Studios)

Similarly, Adams, who stars as Max Chapman in the series, wants fans to know this is not a remake of the movie they hold so dear. For example, Chapman’s character is an amalgamation of several trailblazing, but not well-known, professional Black women baseball players.

The original film features one scene with a Black female player, while the series takes it 10 steps further with Max, inviting audiences into her world, family and friends.

Debuting in 1992, the film told the story of the women in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which operated from 1943 to 1954. With a devoted cult following, the film is hailed for its female representation in sports and film and features memorable performances from actors Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell and Tom Hanks.

The series pays homage to the film but distinguishes itself as its own story by introducing new characters that shine a light on many real women who lived and breathed baseball during the mid-20th century.

Representations of race and sexuality are prominent and distinct in this iteration of “A League of Their Own.” Max’s world is filled with vibrant Black characters, and throughout the series, there is LGBTQ+ representation.

“The tone of the film is so contagious, and that is something that we always wanted to infuse in our show. I think we are going way deeper in telling stories that are not in the film and were not able to be told in 1992.” Jacobson said. “We wanted to go deeper in our characters and talk about a lot more that was happening at the time, but while doing that, to maintain that joy and that spirit.”

Adams talked about that depth as evidenced by her character, Max, a young Black woman dreaming of playing Major League Baseball. Her life is a fusion of Black female baseball players in American history who broke boundaries at that time, such as pitcher Mamie Johnson and Toni Stone, who burst through the gender barrier in the Negro Leagues, along with second-base player Connie Morgan. “The biggest thing I learned is that these women existed,” Adams told theGrio.

“Of course, I am a fan of the movie, and I’ve watched it multiple times, but besides that one scene that we get, I don’t see women that look like me in it,” she explained. “It would never cross my mind that Black women were playing baseball back then, but when I got this show and was able to really dive into the research…I was able to learn about their careers and their journeys in baseball during this era. My mind was absolutely blown and, more so, very frustrated because why don’t we know their names? Why doesn’t the world know who these women are? Because they should.”

“A League of Their Own” premieres Aug. 12 on Prime Video.

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