WNBA star Brittney Griner will partner exclusively with ESPN and Disney Entertainment Television to share her story in various projects released on their platforms. A documentary feature from ESPN Films and scripted series development with ABC Signature are in the works.
She will also sit down with Robin Roberts for her first exclusive interview since returning to the United States after her detainment in Russia.
The athlete was taken into custody in a Moscow-area airport in February 2022 for possession of hashish oil, an illegal substance in Russia. She had the oil, a cannabis product, in vaping cartridges when she was returning to play for her Russian club, UMMC Ekaterinburg.
“The last two years have been the most harrowing, transformative and illuminating period of my life, and I am grateful to be in a place now to share my story with the world,” Griner said. “I’m proud to partner with ESPN and Disney to share this very personal story because of its incredible potential to inspire hope around the world and their proven ability to do just that.”
Despite outcries from the international sporting community and designation by the U.S. government as wrongfully detained, Griner was held under harsh conditions and prevented from speaking with her family for nearly a year. From the circumstances that led to her playing outside the U.S. despite being one of the best players in the sport to her harrowing detainment and the unwavering determination to secure her freedom, as well as her subsequent advocacy for the release of other wrongful detainees, the documentary will feature exclusive footage, recordings and letters to and from the two-time Olympic gold medalist during her time in prison.
“Throughout BG’s detainment and in the time since, ESPN, ABC and Disney were supportive and caring in regards to the human side of this saga,” said Brittney’s wife, Cherelle Griner, who will also serve as an executive producer on the projects. “Love and family were at the center of the fight to get BG home, and with that in mind, there is no better, more trusted partner to tell that story with us.”
Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas (EVP Talent, Wasserman and The Collective) and Brillstein’s Jon Liebman (co-CEO, Brillstein) will serve as executive producers on behalf of Wasserman’s production company.
“Brittney is an exceptional athlete whose hardship and resilience are nothing short of extraordinary,” said Burke Magnus, president of content at ESPN. “We are thrilled to be working with her to tell the nuances of her story and feel confident that this documentary will captivate audiences everywhere.”
The film will utilize exclusive footage and rare archival material to tell her story, including the circumstances that led to her playing overseas, her detainment and separation from her wife, the fight to gain her freedom and her advocacy for the release of other wrongful detainees.
Griner’s life will also be developed for a limited series from ABC Signature.
“We are honored that Brittney has entrusted us to share her story of hope, faith and determination across our platforms,” said Debra OConnell, president of Networks and Television Business Operations at Disney Entertainment. “Her unwavering perseverance that helped shape her as an athlete has now influenced her leadership as a human rights advocate.”
Dec. 8, 2023, marks the first anniversary since Griner was released from a Russian prison.
Premiere dates and further details on the projects and ABC News interview to be announced at a later date.