An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to Win

An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to Win is a 2016 family-drama film starring Marsai Martin[4] in the title role, alongside Frances Fisher, Idara Victor and Frankie Faison in supporting roles.[5] Set in Detroit, Michigan during the Civil Rights Movement, the film revolves around African-American girl Melody Ellison, as she faces adversity and discrimination in her hometown and learns to overcome it through her creativity and imagination.[2][3][6]

An American Girl Story
Melody 1963: Love Has to Win
AmGirl Melody 1963 Poster.jpg
Promo poster
Directed byTina Mabry
Screenplay byAlison McDonald
Based onMelody
by Denise Lewis Patrick
StarringMarsai Martin[2][3]
Frances Fisher
Idara Victor
Frankie Faison
Music byDanny Lux
Release date
  • October 21, 2016 (2016-10-21)[1]
Running time
48 minutes
CountryUnited States

The film is the first in the American Girl film series to be released exclusively on an online streaming service, and is Amazon Studios' first original special.[7][1][8] Love Has to Win is also the first Historical/BeForever feature since the 2008 theatrical release Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. Common served as the executive producer in the film.[2][6]


Set in 1963, the film revolves around Melody Ellison, an African-American girl living in Detroit, Michigan with her mother Frances and her grandfather Frank. Early on she and her family face racial inequality in their hometown, with Melody being bullied at school by a white student named Donald along with his friends for her ethnicity, or wrongfully accused of shoplifting at a clothing store where Melody's mother works.

A turning point for Melody was when a fellow student expresses her intention of moving to another school out of fear for being discriminated, and when news about the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was aired on television, making her question the Pledge of Allegiance and consider moving to a school at her neighborhood.[6] Fearing that a similar bombing would take place at the chapel where Melody's family attend mass in, Melody tries to convince her mother not to perform at a fundraising concert for the Birmingham victims; Frances reassures her, and sees hope in her daughter. Melody puts her creative skill at clothing design to good use, upcycling an old garment into a shawl for her mother to wear at her piano performance.

At church she meets her teacher Miss Abbot, who brought the other students along as part of a field trip. Donald walks out as he refuses to take Melody along; Melody's best friend Tricia volunteers to accompany her instead. The concert takes place as planned. The film ends with Melody and the rest of the churchgoers performing "Lift Every Voice and Sing". A short tribute to the four young victims of the Birmingham bombing appears in a post-credits sequence.



Supporting cast

  • Garrett McQuaid as Donald
  • Dara Iruka as Lorraine
  • Lola Wayne Villa as Trica
  • Matthew Foster as Principal Davis
  • Briana Lane as Sales Clerk aka Val
  • Chuck McCollum as Store Manager
  • Rocky McMurray as Mr. Schuler
  • Daija Bickham as Neighborhood Girl #1
  • Skyelar Wesley as Neighborhood Girl #2
  • Libby Ewing as Mother in Store
  • Joelle Better as Daughter in Store


The direct-to-video film was released to Amazon Prime subscribers on October 21, 2016.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Hinds, Julie (21 October 2016). "Amazon special brings to life American Girl Detroit doll". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Kile, Meredith. "EXCLUSIVE: See 'Black-ish' Star Marsai Martin as the Newest American Girl in 'Melody 1963: Love Has to Win'". KMFB Channel 8. CBS. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  3. ^ a b Barsanti, Sam (25 August 2016). "Black-ish's Marsai Martin cast as American Girl Melody". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  4. ^ Gomez, Patrick (21 October 2016). "Black-ish's Marsai Martin Explains Why Parents and Kids Should Watch Her American Girl Movie Together". People. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  5. ^ Freeze, Kellie (21 October 2016). "Amazon and American Girl Explore Civil Rights in An American Girl Story — Melody 1963: Love Has to Win". Channel Guide. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Petski, Denise (25 August 2016). "'American Girl': 'Black-ish's Marsai Martin To Star In Amazon's Special Set During The Civil Rights Movement". Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  7. ^ Hinckley, David (20 October 2016). "Amazon's Melody 1963: Standing in the Shadows of Motown, Chasing Dr. King's Dream". Huffington Post. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  8. ^ "Sneak Peek - Amazon Presents First Original Special AN AMERICAN GIRL STORY - MELODY 1963". Broadway World. 3 October 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2016.

External linksEdit