A mini-series chronicling the life of soul music icon Gladys Knight is on the drawing board as the “Midnight Train to Georgia” songstress has been announced as a showrunner for an on-screen production that could unveil some momentous financial milestones and misfortunes of her career.
The seven-time Grammy-winning singer’s company, Empress of Soul Productions, has partnered with Cineflex to develop the series, which would be the first autobiographical episodic film for the music legend.
“Our partnership with Cineflix, sharing my life story, will allow me to leave a legacy of hard work and dedication,” Knight told Deadline in a statement. “That alone is greater than any award I could ever receive.”
Gladys Knight and The Pips
The Atlanta native’s illustrious career spans decades since she and her brother Merald Woodlow “Bubba” Knight started their iconic group The Pips — later to become Gladys Knight and The Pips — in 1952 when she was just 8 years old. The group’s hit multi-platinum songs topped music charts lead them to cement their names in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
In 1987, Knight decided to pursue a solo career, and she and the Pips recorded their final LP together, “All Our Love.”
Her Net Worth
Knight amassed her estimated $28 million fortune mainly through music and her acting career. She’s acted on “The Jamie Foxx Show” and “House of Payne,” among other shows. She also appeared as herself on “Empire.”
In 2018, Knight and her fourth husband, William McDowell, whom she married in 2001, sold their Vegas estate for $720,000. The privately-gated Mediterranean-style home, built in 1971, sat on half an acre. The grounds contained a large motor court and swimming pool. The six-bedroom home had a professional recording studio as well. Knight and her husband moved to Fairview, North Carolina.
Knight and McDowell launched a fundraising campaign for the then-closed Reynolds Community Center in Canton, North Carolina. Reynolds was once the only African-American high school in Western North Carolina, according to Citizen Times. Knight and McDowell purchased the site at an auction in 2015 for $80,000 to give it back to the community, according to Heavy.
Bad Deals, Tax Problems and Battle with Gambling
Knight’s fame and fortune didn’t come without their share of hardships. Knight’s personal and family problems offer plenty of material for the series to delve into.
A mother of three, Knight’s youngest son, Shanga Hankerson, opened up the restaurant franchise Gladys Knight Chicken and Waffles with locations in Georgia and Washington, D.C. State tax agents seized all locations because of Hankerson’s failure to withhold payroll taxes. Hankerson received a two-year prison sentence in 2021 and was ordered to pay $1 million in financial restitution for back taxes, penalties, and interest.
The downfall of the chain led to tension between Knight and her son. The R&B icon would go on to sue her son to remove her name image that was used to commercialize the business.
Knight also could offer viewers a look at other financial setbacks she struggled with during the height of her career.
The Empress of Soul once had a serious gambling habit, playing in high-stakes blackjack games at casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. What started as light fun to wind down after her shows, spiraled into an addition, Knight told the Los Angeles Times during an interview in July 2011. Knight first peeled back the layers of her gambling habit in her autobiography “Between Each Line of Pain and Glory,” which was published in 1997. Losing as much as $45,000 in 24 hours was one of many gut-churning times that eventually led the musician to seek counseling to kick her addiction.
“I would play, and I would win. And you should never win. Winning is how they get you. Because you think you’ll win everything, and you won’t. And I just woke up one day and said this don’t make no sense,” Knight wrote.
While the script for the series is said to be in the works, no official date has been announced for production.