OWN's Ava DuVernay Drama 'Queen Sugar' Taps 'True Blood' Favorite to Star

Rutina Wesley will play a journalist/activist in the scripted series based on Natalie Baszile's novel.
 Chelsea Lauren/WireImage

Nearly a year after being picked up straight to series, OWN's Ava DuVernay drama has cast its lead.

True Blood alum Rutina Wesley has been tapped to star in Queen Sugar, based on Natalie Baszile's novel of the same name, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The project chronicles the lives and loves of the estranged Bordelon siblings in Saint Josephine, La.: Charley, the savvy wife and manager of an NBA star; Nova, a world-wise journalist and activist; and Ralph Angel, a formerly incarcerated young father in search of redemption. After a family tragedy, the Bordelons must navigate the triumphs and struggles of their complicated lives in order to run an ailing sugarcane farm in the Deep South.

Wesley will star as Nova, a formidable journalist and activist based in New Orleans. Her life, and that of her brother and their extended family, undergoes significant change when her sister, Charley, returns to Louisiana from Los Angeles to help run the family sugarcane farm.

Queen Sugar hails from Warner Horizon Television. DuVernay will write, direct and executive produce the drama, her first TV series. Oprah Winfrey joins her as exec producer and will appear in multiple episodes in a recurring role. It is her first acting gig on her namesake network.

The duo previously collaborated on Oscar-nominated Selma, which Winfrey co-starred in and executive produced. The series marks OWN's first original series not produced by Tyler Perry.

Wesley, repped by Inspire Entertainment and SMGSB, most recently recurred on NBC's Hannibal and The CW's Arrow. Last pilot season, she co-starred in ABC's cop drama Broad Squad, which did not move forward.

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