'Soul Food's' Felicia D. Henderson Inks Overall Deal at 20th TV, Joins 'Empire' (Exclusive)

The multiyear deal will see her developing family dramas, comedies and adapting graphic novels.
Matthew Jordan Smith
Felicia D. Henderson

20th Century Fox Television’s doors remain open for new business.

In a competitive situation, the studio has signed a multiyear, multimillion-dollar overall deal with Soul Food creator Felicia D. Henderson. As part of the pact, she will develop new projects for 20th TV as well as join the company's juggernaut, Empire, as a consulting producer for its fifth season.

Henderson comes to 20th with a lengthy résumé and a proven ability to move fluidly from genre to genre, be it muscular-supernatural-action, character-driven dramas or half-hour comedies. She also has a long history of writing comic books, with a catalog that includes Teen Titans, Justice Society of America and Static Shock for DC Comics.

Most recently, Henderson spent two years as a co-executive producer on Netflix’s Marvel drama The Punisher. In addition to Soul Food, Showtime’s longest-running African-American-themed drama series, she also wrote on Gossip Girl and 20th's own Fringe. She began her TV writing career in comedy, working on such half-hour hits as Everybody Hates Chris, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Family Matters

Henderson singled out 20th TV’s development chief Terrence Carter, who recently moved over from the network and long has been intimately involved in Empire, as a major draw. "I've wanted to work with Terence Carter and his colleagues for a long time," she said Tuesday in a statement. “I’m excited about creating family dramas, adapting graphic novels and I still love writing comedy. I shared all of that with Terence and his drama and comedy development teams and they said, 'Let's go!' It feels great to find a home that’s extremely supportive of everything I'm passionate about."

20th TV’s president of creative affairs Jonnie Davis was similarly effusive: "Felicia is a wildly talented writing-producing-directing triple threat, who Terence and our development team have been captivated by for years, and we are thrilled to bring her into the studio’s fold. Writing on some of the most notable '90s classics to her more powerful contemporary work reflecting our times, she seamlessly genre hops between sci-fi, drama, comedy and even comic book writing. We couldn’t be happier to add her to our bench of all-stars."

The move comes as the studio's own future is far from clear, since it is among the assets the Murdochs intend to sell off. Still, that aforementioned bench of all-stars includes heavyweights like Empire’s newly re-upped Lee Daniels, This Is Us’ Dan Fogelman and Phil Lord & Chris Miller; while others, like Seth MacFarlane and Modern Family’s Steve Levitan, are taking a wait-and-see approach to their futures at the studio. 

Henderson’s longtime manager, Darryl Taja, will serve as her producing partner as the pair looks to build out her WaterWalk Entertainment banner. Henderson is repped by UTA and attorney Mark Stankevich.