By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — One of Octavia Butler’s most acclaimed novels that’s being adapted for television now has both a director and lead star. The announcement of Janicza Bravo as director and Mallori Johnson as the main star was made Monday by FX in multiple entertainment productions. The original greenlight announcement came in March.
Bravo has prevously directed the project “Zola.” This is Johnson’s first major role according to the website Deadline. She portrays Dana, a writer who gains the ability to time travel back to the 19th century, where her slaveowning and enslaved ancestors reside. Kindred is Johnson’s first role since graduating this year from Julliard.
The Kindred pilot will be written and executive produced by “Watchmen’s” Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Bravo, Courtney Lee-Mitchell, Joel Fields, Joe Weisberg, and Darren Aronofsky will also executive produce, with Aronofsky producing through his company, Protozoa Pictures. Other executive producers include Ernestine Walker, Protozoa’s Ari Handel, and Merrilee Heifetz.
Bravo talked about directing the pilot in a statement. “I first read Kindred 20 years ago,” she said. “I was in college. I hadn’t ever seen myself in a world like that. And certainly not at its center,” she said, as reported by Deadline. “What might seem like only a portrait of an invisible woman is also a potent embrace of our relationship to history and how it can bring us closer to our future. After what felt like losing over a year of the life I had come to know so well, an opportunity to direct an adaptation of this specific text was a win. On top of that getting to partner with Branden is something I’d been wanting for quite some time.”
“Kindred” follows Dana (Johnson), a writer who moves to Los Angeles to live out her writing dreams. But dizzy spells that transport her back and forth in time to a plantation central to her family’s ancestral line disrupt her life and her interracial relationship. Her present life is changed the more she learns about the people who have led to her.
By Ron Wynn