Sterling K. Brown is set to star in and executive produce a Hulu limited series adaptation of Esi Edugyan’s best-selling epic-adventure novel “Washington Black,” the streaming service said Monday.
Per Hulu, “An event series by every definition, ‘Washington Black’ follows the extraordinary 19th-century adventures of George Washington (‘Wash’) Black – an 11-year-old boy on a Barbados sugar plantation who must flee after a shocking death threatens to upend his life.”
Three-time Emmy winner and “This Is Us” star Brown will play the gregarious, larger-than-life Medwin Harris. According to the official character description, Medwin traveled the world after a traumatic childhood as a Black refugee in Nova Scotia as the de facto Mayor of Black Halifax prioritizes the community over everything except Washington Black, his young protégé. Meeting Wash sends him down a challenging path of self-discovery, and as the barricades around his heart start to fall, Medwin will learn to dream again.
Adapted by Selwyn Seyfu Hinds (“Twilight Zone,” “Strange Adventures”) from Edugyan’s novel, the nine-episode “Washington Black” is the tale of a singular young man: pirate ship-stowaway-turned-initiate; rugged explorer of uncharted territory; survivor of the tundra, the desert and the high seas; an engineer; an inventor; an artist, per its logline. He traverses the globe – from searing Barbados heat to Arctic ice – and finds an unexpected and fraught love along the way. Though he meets many an enigmatic figure in his travels, Wash quickly finds that he alone is the engine of his hero’s journey – a triumphant voyage of daring dreams, steampunk and the magic of the human heart.
“Washington Black” is executive produced by Hinds, Brown under his Indian Meadows Productions banner, The Gotham Group’s Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Jeremy Bell, Lindsay Williams and DJ Goldberg, Anthony Hemingway and Jennifer Johnson. Author Edugyan is co-producer.
The limited series hails from 20th Television.
“Washington Black inspires me!” Brown said in a statement Monday accompanying the series order. “This young man and the adventure he undertakes remind me of how the power of imagination and the creativity of artistry can transform the world in which we live. Selwyn Seyfu Hinds has taken the transcendent words of Esi Edugyan and created a spectacular universe that brings to fruition the power of possibility.”
Hinds added: “The world has felt like we’re living in darkest night, stumbling to find and hold onto a North Star to make a way forward. Like many of us, I’ve felt lost far too often. But writing ‘Washington Black’ these past two years has guided me back home. This story of a young Black boy who becomes a globe-trotting artist, scientist and inventor. This tale of the true human superpowers: hope, love, empathy, persistence. Those ideas have been my North Star. The promise that we will get through the long night and take flight like Wash under the light of the sun. This show has been a conduit to that faith for those of us who’ve been creating it, and we’re beyond thrilled to be about the business of sharing it with all of you.”
“What Selwyn, Sterling and their inspired team of collaborators have crafted is a deeply romantic, globe-trotting adventure that is highly entertaining and unlike anything else on television,” Jordan Helman, head of scripted content at Hulu, said. “It is a remarkable tale of hope, wonder and perseverance, and we are honored to have the opportunity to work with such incredible storytellers to bring this series to the screen.”
“Bringing Esi Edugyan’s prize-winning book to television has been a passion project for Selwyn and Sterling, and we are grateful to Hulu for their belief in this wildly ambitious and aspirational project,” Karey Burke, president of 20th Television, added. “Our relationship with the amazing Sterling K. Brown dates all the way back to ‘The People V. OJ’ and of course ‘This Is Us,’ so we couldn’t be happier to be continuing our collaboration with him as both a producer and a performer on this beautiful series.”
Brown is represented by JWS Entertainment, CAA, Jill Fritzo PR and Ziffren Brittenham.