Where Was Netflix’s Shirley Filmed?

Under writer-director, John Ridley, ‘Shirley’ chronicles the inspiring presidential run of the first black woman elected to Congress, Shirley Chisholm. Based on the true story of Shirley Chisholm, the film explores her trailblazing life of shattering barriers and redefining possibilities for generations to come. Shirley’s commitment to embarking on a presidential campaign was met with disbelief, ridicule, and resistance. With courage and conviction, she begins her journey nonetheless, testing the limits of her own resilience while slowly rallying communities around her. Her unwavering belief in the power of ordinary people to effect extraordinary change resonates throughout the narrative, as she confronts injustice and pursues her own paths of advocacy and activism.

The Netflix historical biopic transports us to the early 1970s, where we see Shirley walking the hallowed halls of Congress as well as the neighborhoods of Brooklyn, which she hails from and represents. These settings provide a backdrop for the grassroots activism and fervent support that fueled her historic bid for the presidency. Particularly striking moments in the film take place on Capitol Hill, where Shirley stands out in crowds of white representatives, reminding us of the reality in the corridors of power and the tumultuous political climate of the era. Given the movie’s historical setting, some enthusiasts may be inclined towards exploring the real-world locations where it was filmed.

Shirley Filming Locations

‘Shirley’ was majorly filmed in sites across Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, and, to a lesser extent, in historically accurate locations in Washington, D.C., and New York City, New York. Principal photography for the movie was carried out between December 10, 2021, and April 1, 2022. A month into the filming of ‘Shirley,’ lead actress and producer, Regina King, lost her 26-year-old son to suicide. The period felt like a blur to her, but she resolutely finished the movie, thanking the cast and crew for their support in a very difficult time. Let us take you through the particular filming sites that can be observed in the show.

Cincinnati, Ohio

The vibrant city of Cincinnati became the main filming location for ‘Shirley.’ While Cincinnati is not directly involved in the story of Shirley Chisholm, it is the hometown of Regina King, who was the driving force behind the film besides being the lead. The production team scouted out a number of locations that stood in for sites around Brooklyn and Washington, especially when it came to interior scenes. These included Cincinnati City Hall, Arnold’s Bar and Grill, parts of Court Street, and the neighborhood of West End.

The Cincinnati City Hall located at 801 Plum Street, houses the municipal government of Cincinnati and is featured prominently in the film. The office of Shirley Chisholm seen in the movie, is actually the office of the Cincinnati Mayor, Aftab Pureval at the time. Regina King was especially thankful to the mayor for allowing filming to take place not just in the office, but also in the grand halls of the building. The columned entrance, the spacious interiors, and the stately office of Pureval can be seen multiple times throughout the movie.

Additionally, Arnold’s Bar and Grill on 210 East 8th Street, which is known for its antiquated architecture, can be spotted during a meeting in the film. Many of the film’s sequences were lensed at Court Street in downtown Cincinnati, with the monumental Hamilton County Courthouse visible in the background. Another site that makes an appearance is the Jerriel Missionary Baptist Church in West End, which backdrops a conversation between Shirley and Muriel St. Hill.

Dayton, Ohio

The film crew ventured northwest of Cincinnati and carried out filming in the birthplace of aviation, the city of Dayton. In particular, the Red Horse Motel at 4625 South Dixie Drive, Moraine, was employed as a backdrop for a few scenes.

Washington, D.C.

The capital city of the country was an obvious choice for a filming site for ‘Shirley,’ as it is home to all the federal institutions that the historical figure was associated with and fought to change. We can see establishing shots of Capitol Hill, and the United States Capitol as Shirley Chisholm climbs its steps. The Washington Monument opposite the historical government building is also visible.

New York City, New York

The production team rolled cameras around neighborhoods in Brooklyn, New York City, as they represent the home district of Shirley Chisholm. Historically, the community centers, churches, and meeting halls throughout Brooklyn served as hubs of activism and empowerment for Chisholm and her contemporaries.

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