by Brian A. Wilkins
August 26, 2023
I have great admiration and respect for Sophia Stewart. We have a lot in common. As a lifelong writer who has been plagiarized many times myself, and has challenged (and is still challenging) large corporations with bottomless cash in federal and state courts pro se, I fully understand and empathize with her plight.
Stewart has been fighting Warner Bros, James Cameron, 20th Century Fox, and those Wachowski people for three decades because they stole her work, and turned it into billion dollar movie franchises. People started searching some combination of the words “black woman is real creator/writer of The Matrix” since the internet became mainstream in the early 2000s. Fallacious viral memes and deflective “fact-check” articles have resulted.
I deliberately avoided interviewing Stewart for this article so there is no bias (since it’d be nearly impossible to get the other sides’ take in 2023). Judgment herein was reached based solely on the official, provable record – on court documents and exhibits filed therein.
I can objectively conclude, based on legal judgments and filing in U.S. federal courts, that Stewart is in fact “the Mother of the Matrix” (as she calls herself). She is the creator of the story lines and characters in the blockbuster films. Stewart is still fighting the billion dollar Hollywood machine to receive full compensation for her work. The war may be futile. But she won a very important battle.
The full backstory
Stewart was a 20-something graduate of the City University of New York’s journalism program in the late 1970s. She continued her college education at the University of Southern California (USC) where she studied cinema. While studying at USC, she wrote a manuscript called The Third Eye. It was originally published on May 1, 1981.
Granted the most recent edition of said book on Amazon contains a lot of court documents and commentary related to Stewart’s legal battles with the Wachowskis, Warner Bros., etc. Many people question whether or not The Third Eye, its characters and settings are truly the foundation of the 1999 blockbuster film The Matrix.
But frankly, none of that matters. Much of the disdain and public animosity towards Stewart is based on anti-Black racism. Super fans of The Matrix (and The Terminator franchise) do not want to accept that those legendary and incredible stories were created by a Black American woman.
Stewart, like virtually all aspiring screenwriters in that era, sent an outline of her manuscript to the Wachowski brothers, Columbia Pictures, and 20th Century Fox by 1986. This was the only way back then for average Joes and Janes to get noticed in Hollywood.
Stewart proved the Wachowskis, Columbia and 20th Century Fox had her manuscript via the return receipts from the certified mail and actual response letters. The studios either rejected it or strung Stewart along in perpetuity.
Release of The Matrix and the first lawsuit (2003)
Stewart had long suspected that James Cameron ripped off The Terminator story lines and characters from her work. But she didn’t take any legal action. Stewart saw The Matrix at the movie theater on the day it was released – March 31, 1999. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Stewart served Warner Bros. a cease-and-desist letter on April 9, 1999 (page 55, California complaint). The two sides went back and forth for the next four years, until Ms. Stewart filed a pro se lawsuit against the Wachowskis, Warner Bros., James Cameron, 20th Century Fox, and others in the U.S. District Court of Central California on April 24, 2003.
It sought a total of $400 million in damages for copyright infringement and racketeering violations related to the Defendant’s stealing her work to create The Matrix and The Terminator movies.
The complaint is quite the fascinating read (full California complaint and exhibits here). This was Stewart’s first rodeo as it relates to the federal court system and prosecuting federal lawsuits. I know that feeling all too well.
READ MORE: You Decide: My Pro Se Petitions in the Arizona Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and U.S. District Court (December 29, 2009)
The case was almost dismissed a year later, as it appears Stewart didn’t know how to move it forward. She was learning everything on the fly as a pro se litigant. All the trouble began in July 2004 when Stewart was contacted by New York attorney Jonathan Lubell. He offered to represent her in the case for $50,000.
Lubell was disbarred in New York for misconduct in 1993. I couldn’t find any reinstatement orders. But in New York, lawyers must wait seven years to reapply to the bar. Thus Lubell wouldn’t have been eligible for reinstatement until the year 2000. He represented a federal prisoner in 1997, so the whole situation is confusing. An October 14, 2009 letter from the New York District Attorney’s Office to Stewart indicated that Lubell had been prosecuted for related crimes, and sentenced to 1-3 years in prison in August 2005.
Long story short, Lubell and his minion attorneys failed to actually represent Stewart in any way, shape or form. They took her money, but never served or answered any discovery from the Defendants. They also cancelled Ms. Stewart’s deposition without her knowledge. Since there were no answers to interrogatories, no documents produced by Stewart, and no deposition by Stewart on the record, the Court ruled in favor of the Defendants.
Stewart’s case was dismissed on summary judgment on June 13, 2005 because Stewart’s lawyers failed to prosecute it. She was ordered to pay $305,000 in attorney fees to the Defendants’ lawyers on July 24, 2006.
The Utah attorney malpractice lawsuit (2007)
Stewart sued Lubell and all her other attorneys from the California lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Utah. The [amended] complaint was filed on August 1, 2007, and is another very fascinating read. The full Utah complaint is here.
It lays out exactly how Lubell and company took Stewart’s money, and did absolutely nothing thereafter. The lawsuit sought $150 million in damages not only for the attorneys’ malpractice and breach of faith, but also from the lost potential damages due to their incompetence in the California lawsuit.
The Utah lawsuit dragged on for seven years. Stewart had fired all of her attorneys by 2011, and was representing herself. She filed a motion for the two judges involved in the case to recuse themselves on November 16, 2012.
Stewart alleged that the two judges were biased and partial towards the Defendants in this case and the California case. The motion was denied on December 6, 2012. But U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups voluntarily recused himself on December 13, 2012.
To make another long story short, three of the four Defendant attorneys were dismissed from the case. Only Lubell remained as a Defendant when it was all said and done. He failed to even show up or even seriously acknowledge the case (just like the other three attorneys) throughout the entire seven years. A default judgment was entered against Lubell by Judge Waddoups on December 4, 2012, nine days before he recused himself.
It took two more years, and Stewart passionately objecting to the damages order. But ultimately the Court awarded her $316,000 for Lubell’s malpractice and breach of contract. The court considered awarding damages of $15 billion for the underlying California case since Stewart’s attorneys were incompetent in said case. The judge passively acknowledged and accepted as true that Stewart is in fact the original writer and creator of both The Matrix and The Terminator franchises.
That’s what Ms. Stewart is referencing in this October 17, 2019 tweet.
Warners Bros., 20th Century Fox, etc. were only interested parties in the Utah case and not actual Defendants. Thus there was no fair way to calculate damages without reopening the California case and receiving their input. Ms. Stewart received nothing further.
Lubell died at age 87 on November 13, 2016. Stewart could never collect the $316,000 anyway (even if Lubell was alive) because it essentially just negated (overturned) the $315,000 judgment against her from California. So she sold her interest in and right to the judgment to a third party for a mere $7,000 on June 14, 2021.
This is a really sad story. Stewart has to be approaching 70 years old (a few websites say she was born on December 15, 1952, but I cannot verify that). Her creations of The Matrix and The Terminator are dismissed as urban legend by most people. But her federal case in California was never actually ruled on the merits because of the deliberate or otherwise sabotage by her former lawyers. Now those claims are forever closed.
Meanwhile those Wachowski freaks are worth over $200 million, and now wear makeup and dress up in women’s clothing to provide themselves another layer of protection from scrutiny (since homosexuals are the second-most protected class in the U.S. after Zionists).
Two U.S. District Courts and the FBI (which is tasked with investigating all claims of intellectual property theft and copyright infringement) have considered Stewart’s claims. By now she would have been charged criminally with malicious prosecution, and counter-sued by Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, etc. if she was lying about any of this.
The foregoing would also force Warner Bros. et al. to prove they, and not Stewart, actually created The Matrix and The Terminator. That’s why prosecutors would never charged her; and Warner Bros. et al. would never sue her for defamation. Numerous bloggers and journalists have also directly stated that the Wachowskis stole The Matrix from Stewart. None of them have been sued for defamation.
It’s no coincidence that The Oracle, the clairvoyant, deity-like character in The Matrix, is a Black woman.
Warner Bros. did that deliberately to rub it in Stewart’s face. They can brazenly steal from you and get away with it. Stewart famously said, “The poor steal because they’re needy; the rich steal because they’re greedy.” She got royally screwed by what appears to be a Hollywood/federal court/attorney conspiracy.
Stewart will never get her due credit, recognition and deserved fruits of her labor for creating two of the most successful film franchises in history. Unfortunately this is the norm for Black Americans creators. Nathan “Nearest” Green is the true creator of Jack Daniels whiskey. But a white man gets credit and all the money for it.
The Isley Brothers won a $5.4 million judgment – the largest copyright infringement award ever at the time – in 1994 from singer Michael Bolton and Sony Music. The latter two stole the Isley Brothers 1964 song “Love Is A Wonderful Thing” and made millions off of it with Bolton’s 1991 unauthorized remake of it. All Bolton and Sony had to do was credit the Isley Brothers for the song to avoid the lawsuit. But they refused.
Ancient Egyptians look like the following in their own art and paintings.
Black Americans invented a bunch of stuff pre-1870 and thereafter. But “slaves” were not allowed patents, and systemically racist white government didn’t allow Black patents even after the Civil War for quite some time. So white people always got the credit for Black people’s work. Same thing happens in 2023.
Ms. Stewart likely would have written several more blockbuster story lines with memorable characters. But she’s literally spent the last 30 years of her life fighting to claim what was already hers. She’ll never be at peace with all this. But at least those who want to know the truth, do know the truth about her.