Tarell Alvin McCraney, the co-writer and executive producer of Academy Award-winning 2016 film Moonlight, has been hired to create a new yet-to-be-named coming-of-age drama series for the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
The series, which is inspired by events from McCraney’s life, follows a poor, black 14-year-old prodigy living in the projects of South Florida near the end of Barack Obama’s U.S. presidency. The young teenager is haunted by the death of his closest friend and must choose between staying on the streets where he was raised or pursuing a higher education.
The series will appear alongside OWN’s other predominantly black dramas like Queen Sugar, a show which recently featured a trans character played by a trans actor.
McCraney’s series will also feature award-winning actor Michael B. Jordan who will also serve as an executive producer. Jordan starred in HBO’s city drama series The Wire, played the leads in the 2013 real-life tragedy Fruitvale Station and the 2015 Rocky sequel Creed. Johnson will also appear in the 2018 Marvel superhero film Black Panther.
McCraney is an openly gay playwright and actor who grew up in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami. During drama school, he wrote the script In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue — a semi-autobiographic tale about his experiences growing up with bullies and a crack-addicted mother — as a way to cope with the AIDS-related death of his mother.
Despite reports to the contrary, McCraney’s script was never published or produced. Nevertheless, director Barry Jenkins discovered McCraney’s work and adapted it into a screenplay for the film Moonlight.
Speaking of McCraney’s upcoming series, TV producer and personality Oprah Winfrey said:
“When Tarell shared his powerful story with us there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. I knew this was something special that our viewers will without a doubt connect to and feel compelled to explore with us. I am honored to be working with Tarell and the rest of the producers on this project.”