Robin Thede to Star in 'Black Lady Sketch Show' for HBO From Issa Rae

The straight-to-series offering is considered the first sketch comedy in TV history to be written by, directed by and starring an array of black women.
Courtesy of HBO; Taylor Jewell  
Robin Thede (left), Issa Rae

Robin Thede is returning to television.

Six months after BET canceled her late-night talker The Rundown With Robin Thede, the host and comedian has been tapped to topline A Black Lady Sketch Show for HBO.

The half-hour sketch comedy — featuring, as its name implies, black women — has been picked up straight to series. An episode count and premiere date have not been determined.

Thede created the series and will star, write and executive produce the project alongside Issa Rae and her HBO-based Issa Rae Productions banner. The series will feature narrative sketches performed by a core cast of black women — including Thede — as well as celebrity guests. It is considered the first sketch comedy in TV history to be written by, directed by and starring an array of black women.

Lauren Ashley Smith will serve as head writer and co-exec producer on Black Lady Sketch Show, reuniting with Thede. Smith previously served as head writer on BET's one-and-done effort The Rundown. Her credits include Bravo's Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen and VH1's Best Week Ever.

3 Arts Entertainment's Dave Becky and Jonathan Berry will exec produce alongside Jax Media's Tony Hernandez, Brooke Posch and John Skidmore, the latter of whom will produce. Issa Rae Productions' Deniese Davis and Montrel McKay will oversee for the company.

Black Lady Sketch Show brings Thede back to television after BET canceled the Chris Rock-produced The Rundown after one season. The weekly talk show — which included sketch segments and short documentary pieces — ended after its initial 24-episode order. At the time of the cancellation, BET — which is under new leadership — expressed hope in working with Thede again. The 30-minute topical satire show was hosted by the former Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore head writer and contributor. Never a ratings breakout, Thede generated a small but loyal following and became a critical favorite. Days after BET's cancellation, she hosted the Television Critics Association's annual awards show, which received favorable feedback from critics. The Rundown was universally praised and boasts a rare 100 percent fresh rating among critics on RottenTomatoes.

Thede, who also was the first African-American woman to serve as head writer for a late-night series and for the White House Correspondents Dinner, is currently developing a scripted project for ABC. She is repped by WME and Del Shaw.

The sketch show extends Rae's relationship with HBO, where she stars on and exec produces Insecure. It is the latest project to stem from her overall deal with the premium cabler. She is repped by UTA, 3 Arts and John V. Meigis Jr.

A Black Lady Sketch Show is the latest series to come from indie studio Jax Media. The company previously produced The Rundown and scripted offerings including Younger, Broad City, Search Party, The Conners and Netflix's upcoming Russian Doll.

For HBO, the series arrives as the premium cabler is under a mandate to do more under its new corporate owners. The network boasts a late-night stable that also includes shows hosted by John Oliver and Bill Maher.