7:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Aunjanue Ellis Nabs Female Lead in ABC's 'Quantico' (Exclusive)
ABC's terror drama Quantico has cast its female lead.
The Help alum Aunjanue Ellis has been tapped to star in the drama pilot from Josh Safran, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The drama centers on a group of young FBI recruits, all with specific reasons for joining, who battle their way through training at the Quantico base in Virginia. As the drama intercuts between their hidden pasts and their present training, it also flashes-forward to the near future, where one of the recruits will turn out to be a sleeper terrorist responsible for the most devastating terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.
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Ellis will star as Miranda, an extremely professional and tough woman who is the director of Quantico and oversees the training of a new group of recruits. Honest to the point of being harsh at times, Miranda never allows her emotions to cloud her judgment, and is able to make difficult decisions — despite dealing with pressures at home. The character has fought hard to become the highest-ranking woman in the FBI, but there's only so far she's been able to go and that fuels her to push even further. In the meantime, she teams with her former partner, Liam O'Connor, now a staff counselor at Quantico, to sift out the best trainee recruits to become the next crop of FBI agents.
Ellis, whose TV credits also include BET mini The Book of Negroes, ABC's High Incident as well as The Practice, True Blood and The Mentalist, becomes the latest African-American lead on a pilot this season as networks — following ABC's lead with Scandal, Black-ish and How to Get Away With Murder — continue to push for diversity onscreen.
Ellis, repped by ICM Partners, TMT Entertainment Group and Kraditor and Haber, joins a cast that also includes Tate Ellington and Graham Rogers.
Safran (Gossip Girl) will pen the script and exec produce the ABC Studios and Mark Gordon Co. drama alongside Mark Gordon and Nick Pepper. Marc Munden will direct the pilot.