Showtime Orders Lena Waithe Drama 'The Chi' to Series

Lena Waithe H 2015

Showtime is beefing up its original drama slate.

The pay cabler has ordered Lena Waithe's The Chi to series, it was announced Monday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour.

Additionally, Straight Outta Compton star Jason Mitchell has joined the cast.

The coming-of-age series follows half a dozen characters navigating the South Side of Chicago, where growing up can be a matter of life and death. Mitchell will play Brandon, an ambitious and confident young man who dreams about opening a restaurant of his own someday, but is torn between the promise of a new life and his responsibility to his mother and teenage brother.

Best known for his breakout role as Eazy-E in Straight Outta Compton, Mitchell also is slated to appear in Kong: Skull Island, Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit-riots drama and Dee Rees' Mudbound. He is repped by UTA, Authentic Talent and Literary Management and Ziffren Brittenham.

Elwood Reid (The Bridge) will serve as showrunner and executive produce The Chi with Waithe, Common and Aaron Kaplan. Dope director Rick Famuyiwa will exec produce and helm the pilot episode. Waithe created the series, which is being produced by Fox 21.

It's been a long journey to a series order for the drama, which originally was ordered to pilot in August 2015. Since then, the project has parted ways with director Clark Johnson (The Wire), while also adding Reid and Famuyiwa. The latter came aboard in late November to shoot a second pilot for the series, at which time several roles also were recast.

The Chi joins returning Showtime dramas Homeland, Ray Donovan, The Affair and Billions. The pay cabler also has first-year dramas I'm Dying Up Here, Guerrilla, the Daniel Craig starrer Purity and the highly anticipated Twin Peaks revival. The pickup comes after Showtime said goodbye to several original series in 2016, including Masters of Sex, Penny Dreadful and Roadies.

Homeland, as well as half-hour comedy Dice, also hail from Fox 21.