Stephanie Allain Options 'Black Fortunes' About First African-American Millionaires for TV (Exclusive)

Sources say the 'Dear White People' producer is aiming to adapt the book into a limited series.
Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images; Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

Producing vet Stephanie Allain has found her next project.

Under her company Homegrown Pictures, the Dear White People executive producer has optioned Shomari Wills' book Black Fortunes, a series of biographies of former American slaves who endured unspeakable hardships, only to later become the nation’s first black millionaires. Sources say Allain has plans to develop the book for television, and is specifically eyeing a limited-series adaptation.

Black Fortunes follows several remarkable individuals who emerged from slavery and broke ground in attaining financial success during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Their brilliance and ingenuity in the face of a daunting reality gave birth to the little-known history of the first black business titans.

"Job creators, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, activists and most of them former slaves, the subjects of Wills' book exemplify the audacity of the American dream," said Allain, who also produced Hustle & Flow. "These men and women created empires from the embers of slavery and their stories are wildly entertaining.”

Homegrown recently premiered the Mel Jones-directed series Leimert Park at Sundance. The company also has the Netflix series Dear White People; the Netflix film Juanita (directed by Clark Johnson and starring Alfre Woodard); and independent film The Weekend, written and directed by Stella Meghie. 

Wills is a writer, journalist and author who previously has worked for CNN and Good Morning America. He's also contributed to the NY Carib News and Columbia Journalism Review. Black Fortunes marks his debut book out on HarperCollins.

Homegrown is repped by UTA, Brian Dobbins of Principato-Young Entertainment and Jackoway Tyerman. Wills is repped by Gloria Loomis at Watkins/Loomis.