Hulu has landed the first project out of Oprah Winfrey and Lionsgate’s deal to adapt the Pulitzer Prize-winning “1619 Project” from The New York Times and journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones.
The docuseries will be produced by “Music by Prudence” director Roger Ross Williams, with Vice TV alum Shoshana Guy acting as showrunner. Williams will direct the first episode.
Published in August 2019 on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in the United States, “The 1619 Project” is described by Hulu and Lionsgate as an examination of 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 democracy itself.
The docuseries is the first project out of a wide-ranging partnership between Winfrey’s Harpo Films, Lionsgate and The New York Times to develop “The 1619 Project” into an expansive portfolio of feature films, television series and other content. The New York Times’ Kathleen Lingo, editorial director for film and TV, and Caitlin Roper, executive producer for scripted film and TV, will also executive produce.
The series has landed at Hulu as part of a distribution agreement between Lionsgate and Disney General Entertainment Content’s BIPOC Creator Initiative led by Tara Duncan.
“‘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,” Williams said in a statement. “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,” Hannah-Jones added. “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,” Winfrey said. “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.”