Shira Haas has played strong religious women in Unorthodox and Shtisel and now she is set to portray one of the strongest secular women of all time, the late Israeli prime minister, Golda Meir, according to an announcement in Deadline on Monday.
Barbra Streisand will executive produce Lioness, a drama series about the life of Meir from MGM/UA Television in association with Nina Tassler and Denise Di Novi ‘s PatMa Productions. Lioness will mark the first time Streisand has worked on a scripted television series.
Haas, 25, is one of the most successful Israeli actors and has become an international star this year. Nominated for an Emmy and Golden Globe for her role in Netflix’s Unorthodox, she won the Best Actress Award at the Tribeca Film Festival for Ruthy Pribar’s Asia in 2020.
Other actresses who have portrayed Meir include Lynn Cohen in Steven Spielberg's Munich and Ingrid Bergman in A Woman Called Golda.
Written and executive produced by Emmy winner Eric Tuchman (The Handmaid’s Tale), Lioness will be directed and produced by Emmy winner Mimi Leder (The Morning Show). The book, Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel, by Francine Klagsbrun, is being adapted as the basis for the series. The award-winning Klagsbrun fought for the right of women to be ordained as Conservative rabbis and in 1988, became the first woman to carry a Torah to the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Klagsbrun’s book follows Meir’s life, starting from her infancy in Kiev and her years growing up in Milwaukee, as well as her role in the birth of the state of Israel and her tenure as the country’s first and only female prime minister. A sometimes divisive figure, especially in the wake of her handling of the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, she is still revered and respected by many.
After PatMa bought the rights to Lioness three years ago, Di Novi told Deadline, “One of the things that frustrates us is that there are so many incredible women in history whose stories have not been told, Golda Meir is one of the greatest and most prominent figures in world history and her entire life as a wife, mother, teacher and creator of a country in one of the most complicated nations in the world should be told. We feel the depth of her story, and we think it’s an incredible role for an actor. It’s so compelling.”
Deadline quoted Tassler as saying that “one of the things that struck us was that many of the issues that she had to contend to in her day — childcare, education and being the only woman in a roomful of men — those issues that she was dealing with are as relevant today. Even while she was involved in establishing the nation of Israel, she traveled throughout this country and grew up in Milwaukee so this is as much an American story as it is one of Israel’s.”