“UnPrisoned” actor Delroy Lindo and showrunner Yvette Lee Bowser have found that opportunities for Black creatives have increased since their early years in the television and film business, saying that their new Hulu series serves as a “present-day corrective” in tackling systemic issues.
“We’re absolutely making progress,” Bowser – who has produced several hit shows, including “Living Single,” “A Different World” and “Dear White People” – said during a panel discussion for Hulu and Onyx Collective’s new dramedy on the 2023 Water TCA Press Tour.
The scripted series, which stars Lindo, Kerry Washington, Marque Richardson, Faly Rakotohavana and Jordyn McIntosh, is created by Tracy McMillan and inspired by her life. The half-hour comedy follows the life 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.
While discussing how the show will serve as a “present-day corrective” in tackling systemic issues like the impact of the prison system, the cast opened up about how the landscape and opportunities for Black creatives to tell their stories authentically and from their perspectives has changed over the years.
“Things are different,” Lindo said. “The fact of being here listening to this intelligence and brilliance of my colleagues, that that brilliance, that intelligence, that commitment, that vision can be brought together in a television show Is indicative of a difference, a significant difference, from the standpoint of the work that one is offered.”
In fact, Bowser remembers not so long ago when opportunities for Black writers were extremely limited or, for that matter, nonexistent.
“I think there was a time where we as Black writers and storytellers were fighting nearly for an opportunity to tell a story, and now we’re finding ourselves in a period in time where we can go deeper — much, much deeper,” Bowser said. “I’ve been in this business 35 years, and it’s actually beginning to change, and it’s incredibly cathartic and it’s incredibly rewarding to actually have stood the test of time and be here to help shepherd such fresh story because there’s so many different family stories to be told.”
Bower went on to acknowledge the existence of Onyx Collective and how it provides Black talent with a platform in which Black stories can be supported.
“Onyx as a platform exists to tell our stories and spread them globally, as opposed to the ‘80s and ‘90s when, quite frankly, our shows were used to build other platforms that then disregarded us for other audiences. Onyx is here to stay and to tell these kinds of stories for us by us,” Bowser said.
The Hulu/Onyx Collective original series “UnPrisoned” premieres March 10.