It was confirmed today that SHOWTIME has given a pilot order to a one-hour drama created, executive produced and written by Lena Waithe (Dear White People, Bones) and executive produced by Grammy and Academy Award winner Common (Selma, Smokin’ Aces).
Produced by Fox 21, the untitled project is a relevant, timely and distinctive coming-of-age story of a young African American male in which just growing up can be a matter of life and death. In addition to Waithe and Common, the pilot will be executive produced by Aaron Kaplan (Secrets and Lies, The Mysteries of Laura) and directed and executive produced by Clark Johnson (HOMELAND, The Wire) and will begin shooting in Chicago later this year. The announcement was made today by David Nevins, President, Showtime Networks Inc.
“The two creative forces behind the show, both hailing from Chicago’s South Side, give this pilot an unparelled authenticity,” said Nevins. “Lena Waithe is an extremely fresh, talented young writer with a unique voice and a deeply thoughtful perspective into the world where she grew up. I immediately gravitated to her script, which is emotional, funny, tragic and relevant, all at once. And, we are so fortunate to have artist and visionary Common for his first producing project in scripted television.”
Lena Waithe is a writer, producer and actor who was recently named “one of ten comics to watch” by Variety. She produced the award-winning, top-grossing indie film, Dear White People, which earned a Special Jury Prize at Sundance. She is the creator of the comedy pilot, Twenties. Waithe’s writing credits include the drama series Bones; the viral video “Shit Black Girls Say;” and webisodes about online dating, Hello Cupid. She also wrote and directed a short film Save Me that appeared at several indie film festivals.
Born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, Common is one of hip-hop’s most poetic and respected lyricists, having garnered multiple Grammy Awards throughout his career. His tenth studio album Nobody’s Smiling debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip Hop Chart in 2014. In addition to his award-winning music career, Common’s work in film, television and his multiple written works (The MIRROR and ME, I Like You But I Love ME, and New York Times Best Seller, One Day It’ll All Make Sense) have proven his status as a bona fide entertainment multi-hyphenate.
Common’s acting career also includes starring in significant roles in the films Smokin’ Aces, Street Kings, American Gangster, Wanted, Terminator Salvation, Date Night, Just Wright, Happy Feet Two, New Year’s Eve and Run All Night. Most recently, Common won the Golden Globe® Award and an Oscar Award for Best Original Song, for his song “Glory” from the film Selma, in which he co-starred as 1960s Civil Rights leader James Bevel.
Clark Johnson is an established director and actor. He has directed some of television’s most critically acclaimed series including directing the pilot and series finale of The Wire and The Shield, as well as several episodes of HOMELAND and SLEEPER CELL on SHOWTIME. As an actor, Johnson became part of the original cast of the television series Homicide: Life on the Street playing Detective Meldrick Lewis for all seven seasons and the reunion movie, as well as directing several episodes. Other directing credits include Third Watch, The West Wing and NYPD Blue among others.