Hulu and Lionsgate announced that Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams will produce and oversee a documentary series based on materials drawn from The New York Times Magazine and Nikole Hannah Jones’ “The 1619 Project,” slated to debut in the U.S. on Hulu.
The studio confirmed that Williams will direct the first episode and produce the series, with producing partner and co-executive producer Geoff Martz, in collaboration with Lionsgate Television, The New York Times, and Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films. Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning journalist Shoshana Guy will serve as showrunner on the project.
The New York Times Magazine’s “The 1619 Project” was a landmark undertaking that connected the centrality of slavery in U.S. history with an unflinching account of the brutal racism that endures in so many aspects of American life today. It was launched in August 2019 on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in the English colonies that would become the United States. It examines the legacy of slavery in America and how it shaped nearly all aspects of society, from music and law to education and the arts, and including the principles of our democracy itself.
“‘The 1619 Project’ is an essential reframing of American history. Our most cherished ideals and achievements cannot be understood without acknowledging both systemic racism and the contributions of Black Americans. And this isn’t just about the past—Black people are still fighting against both the legacy of this racism and its current incarnation,” said Williams. “I am thrilled and grateful for the opportunity to work with The New York Times, Lionsgate Television, Harpo Films and Hulu to translate the incredibly important ‘The 1619 Project’ into a documentary series.”
“I could not ask for a more gifted and committed storyteller to entrust “The 1619 Project” to than Roger Ross Williams,” said Ms. Hannah-Jones. “I have long admired the impact and authenticity of his filmmaking, and the fact that we’re working with Disney and Hulu aligns with our vision of partnering with the world’s greatest Black storytellers to bring this project to a global audience.”
“We worked hard to get everything right with our first offering,” said Ms. Winfrey. “Adding the reach of Disney and its powerful brand to our collaboration, launching on a great premium platform like Hulu, and bringing together the creative resources of our friends at Lionsgate and The New York Times to support Nikole Hannah-Jones’ narrative and Roger Ross Williams’ vision is the perfect start to our partnership.”
“‘The 1619 Project’ is a revelatory master class in the power of history,” stated Duncan, “Nikole Hannah-Jones’ extraordinary work speaks to contemporary America and reveals how our past is ever present, but more importantly, why engaging in a much-needed dialogue about our origins has the power to create healing and a meaningful positive impact on our collective future. It’s an honor to join forces with Nikole, the enormously gifted Roger Ross Williams, Oprah Winfrey and our partners at Lionsgate and The New York Times to bring this new chapter of ‘The 1619 Project’ to life.”
“Our goal has been to find the right creative voices to translate Nikole Hannah-Jones’ vision into memorable television, film and other new forms, and just the right partners to champion our work,” said Caitlin Roper, executive producer, Scripted Film & TV at The New York Times. “Roger Ross Williams is an iconic documentary filmmaker, and alongside our incredible partners at Hulu, we’ll really be able to expand the scope and reach of the project.”
Kathleen Lingo, editorial director for film and TV at The New York Times, will also executive produce for The Times.
“We’re thrilled to bring aboard world-class Black storytellers and platform partners who can do justice to Nikole Hannah-Jones’ powerful journalistic masterpiece,” said Lionsgate Senior Vice President and Head of Alternative Programming Alice Dickens-Koblin. “It takes content as special as ‘The 1619 Project’ to bring singular talents like Roger Ross Williams, Nikole Hannah-Jones and Oprah Winfrey together, and we’re delighted to partner with our friends at Disney and Hulu to share this compelling story with a global audience.”
“‘The 1619 Project’ has helped frame our understanding of U.S. history and contemporary society, elevating an under-reported, systemic story of vital importance,” said Kelly Campbell, president of Hulu. “We’re honored to be the exclusive streaming home to this transformative documentary series along with our partners at The New York Times, Lionsgate Television and Harpo Films.”
photo credit: hulu