Onyx Collective presented several new scripted and unscripted TV series as part of its expanding programming slate, highlighting creators of color at the Television Critics Association 2023 winter press tour.
Included in the presentation was Nikole Hannah-Jones’ six-part limited docuseries “The 1619 Project.” Created by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the New York Times, the show seeks to reframe the country’s history by placing the contributions of Black Americans at the center. The episodes (titled “Democracy,” “Race,” “Music,” “Capitalism,” “Fear” and “Justice”) are adapted from essays from The New York Times No. 1 bestselling “The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story” and examine how the legacy of slavery shapes different aspects of contemporary American life.
Hannah-Jones hosts and executive produces the series, which is produced by Lionsgate in association with One Story Up Productions, Harpo Films and the New York Times. Director Roger Ross Williams also serves as an executive producer, alongside Caitlin Roper Kathleen Lingo for the New York Times and Oprah Winfrey. Shoshana Guy serves as an executive producer and showrunner.
As previously announced, “The 1619 Project” will premiere with the first two episodes exclusively on Hulu on Jan. 26, with two episodes releasing weekly on Hulu subsequently.
Also announced during Saturday’s panel, the premiere date for the original dramedy “UnPrisoned” has been set for March 10 on Hulu, with all episodes streaming at once.
Executive produced by and starring Kerry Washington and Delroy Lindo, the half-hour series tells the story of “a messy but perfectionist relationship therapist and single mom whose life is turned right-side-up when her dad gets out of prison and moves in with her and her teenage son,” per Onyx Collective.
Created by Tracy McMillan and inspired by her life, the author also serves as an executive producer alongside Washington and Pilar Savone through their Simpson Street production company, Lindo, Joy Gorman Wettels, Jen Braeden and Yvette Lee Bowser, who also serves as showrunner. ABC Signature is behind the production.
The company also announced the addition of two pickups including “1266” (working title) starring Gabourey Sidibe and three-part docu-series “Black Twitter” (working title).
Hailing from from 20th Television, “1266” is a scripted comedy inspired by Sidibe’s life. It follows the tale of Gabby Brixton (Sidibe), whose life seems to be aimless as she still lives with her mom and makes half-hearted attempts to become a singer, model and overnight millionaire. After being fired from her job, she finds her way into the phone sex industry as an operator. The money-scheme eventually turns into a life-changing experience for her when she becomes close to her other co-workers and she “learns how powerful, profitable and prolific her voice can be.” Onyx Collective has ordered a pilot episode.
Thembi Banks (“Young.Wild.Free,” “Only Murders in the Building”) serves as executive producer with Steven Canals (“Pose”), Sidibe and Julie Bean (“grown-ish”). Jill Kaplan serves as a non-writing executive producer. Banks and Bean will be co-showrunners. Sidibe and Banks are credited for the story with Banks writing the teleplay and directing the pilot.
The collective has placed a straight-to-series order for the three-part docu-series “Black Twitter” (working title) from A Penny for Your Thoughts, Wired Studios and Culture House. Prentice Penny is directing the series, marking the “Insecure” alum’s first project with Onyx Collective via his overall deal under the banner of his company.
Based on Jason Parham’s Wired article “A People’s History of Black Twitter,” the series details the rise, movements, voices and the memes that established Black Twitter as an influential and dominant force in multiple facets of American political and cultural life.
Penny will also executive produce through his company, A Penny For Your Thoughts, with Chris Pollack, Alex Soler. Sarah Amos, Helen Estabrook, Agnes Chu, and Andrew Whitney are attached to executive produce on behalf of Wired Studios. Raeshem Nijhon, Carri Twigg, Nicole Galovski, serve as executive producers for Culture House with Joie Jacoby, who will also serve as showrunner. Jason Parham of Wired Studios will produce.