Oprah Winfrey, 'Selma' Director Reteam for OWN Drama Series
Based on Natalie Baszile's novel 'Queen Sugar,' the series will begin production in 2015 — and will feature Winfrey in a recurring role.
Oprah Winfrey and Selma director Ava DuVernay are teaming up for an original drama series for OWN — and Winfrey plans to use it as a vehicle for herself as an actress.
The cable network announced Monday that DuVernay will take the lead on adapting Natalie Baszile's novel Queen Sugar at the network, whose previous serial scripted efforts have been strictly Tyler Perry outings.
“I loved this book and immediately saw it as a series for OWN,” said Winfrey. “The story’s themes of reinventing your life, parenting alone, family connections and conflicts, and building new relationships are what I believe will connect our viewers to this show.”
Queen Sugar is the story of a woman and her teenage daughter who leave their upscale Los Angeles life to claim an inheritance: her father's 800-acre sugar cane farm in the heart of Louisiana. "From the moment I was introduced to the book, I was captivated by the idea of a modern woman wrestling with identity, family, culture and the echoes of history," added DuVernay. "To bring this kind of storytelling to life alongside Oprah for her network is wildly wonderful. I'm excited about what's in store."
DuVernay will write, direct and executive produce the project, her first TV series. Winfrey joins her as EP and will appear in multiple episodes in a recurring role. It's 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 move marks OWN's first original series not produced by Perry. The prolific multihyphenate helped make the network a ratings success with shows like The Haves and the Have Nots and Love Thy Neighbor. OWN has since committed to other scripted works, though they've all been telepics and miniseries.
Winfrey told The Hollywood Reporter in December that her top priority at the network was "developing more scripted programming and eventually projects that I could appear in."
Production is set to begin later in 2015.