Latino Drama 'Vida' Ordered to Series at Starz

Veronica Osorio and Melissa Barrera - Split - Getty - H 2017
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A year and a half after putting three Latino-themed projects in development, Starz is moving forward with one of them.

The premium cable network has handed out a series order to Vida (formerly Pour Vida) and tapped Veronica Osorio (The Carmichael Show, Girlboss) and Melissa Barrera (Club de Cuervos) to star.

Vida is a half-hour drama series revolving around two Mexican-American sisters from the Eastside of Los Angeles who couldn't be more different or distanced from one another. Circumstances force them to return to their old neighborhood, where they are confronted by the past and shocking truth about their mother’s identity. Osorio will play Emma, while Barrera will portray Lyn. The project is inspired by a Richard Villegas Jr. short story.

Tanya Saracho (How to Get Away With Murder, Looking, Girls) will serve as showrunner. Alonso Ruizpalacios (GuerosVerde) will direct the pilot. Big Beach TV will produce the series with executive producers Marc Turtletaub, Peter Saraf (Everything Is Illuminated) and Robin Schwartz. Lionsgate will retain domestic and international multiplatform rights, including broadcast, home entertainment and digital for the show. Starz senior vp original programming Marta Fernandez and manager of original programming Kathleen Clifford will oversee for the cabler

"Tanya explores identity, culture, gender and sexuality through the lens of a Latinx family and their community. It’s a deeply personal and relatable series about coming back home and finally growing up,” Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said Wednesday in a statement. “Vida reflects the intersecting worlds of Latin and American descendants of all genders and sexualities and speaks to the heart of Starz’s programming commitment to present compelling stories for traditionally underserved audiences. We are very proud to work with Tanya and help bring her vision to life."

The pickup comes as Starz has found success in reaching traditionally under-served audiences with African-American-themed series including Power — its highest-rated original — and Survivor's Remorse, as well as women with Outlander and The White Queen, among others.

"The audience we're going for is the bilingual, second-generation audience," Albrecht told reporters in January 2016 when he announced the three Latino-themed projects, including Vida. "It's an audience that is hard to corral because there are a lot of different cultural elements there. It's an audience that is very engaged in premium television, but it's an audience that if we lean into them a little we can show them that Starz has them on our minds."

Vida was originally described as a half-hour dramedy following the Hernandez sisters who inherit a building in East L.A. and attempt to open a wine bar. 

Osorio is repped by UTA and 3 Arts; Barrera is with Paradigm and Cross Over Entertainment.

A premiere date has not been determined. Vida joins a roster of originals that also includes Ash v. Evil Dead, The Missing, American Gods, Counterpart and recently announced The Rook. The premium outlet is also readying Ascendant, a TV sequel to the Divergent franchise.