Ta-Nehisi Coates' 'Between the World and Me' Heads to HBO

The premium cabler will adapt a stage show based on the author's 2015 book.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates

HBO is bringing the stage show based on Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me to television.

The premium cable outlet will air a special in the fall based on Coates' best-selling book. Originally adapted by Harlem's Apollo Theater in 2018, the special features readings from the book, documentary and archival footage, and animation. Apollo Theater executive producer Kamilah Forbes will direct.

"Ta-Nehisi's book is a modern literary classic that provides an essential message for our times," said HBO Programming president Casey Bloys. "We are tremendously proud to bring this incredibly important event to our audiences."

Said Coates, "I've been working with Kamilah almost as long as I've been a writer. I can think of no one better to put Between the World and Me onscreen and no better home for it than HBO."

Between the World and Me is written as a letter from Coates to his teenage son and describes the author's experiences growing up in Baltimore and his growing fear of violence against the Black community. The narrative also explores Coates' notion that American society structurally supports white supremacy.

"As people across our country continue to speak out about violent, systemic racism and the urgent need for tangible change, Ta-Nehisi's words resonate as strongly today as they did five years ago," said Forbes. "I'm excited to collaborate again with both Ta-Nehisi and HBO on this important special event, ensuring that the powerful voices in this work, and cry for justice from the Black community, continues to reach a broader audience."

Forbes, a friend of Coates' since their time together at Howard University, is featured in the book. Susan Kelechi Watson (This Is Us), also a Howard alumna, took part in the staged readings at the Apollo and Washington's Kennedy Center and will executive produce with Coates and Forbes. Oscar-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams (Music by Prudence, HBO's The Apollo) produces via his One Story Up production company.

"Through Between the World and Me we intend to create a space of communion where Black people can metabolize our grief, celebrate our joys and continue to amplify the current discourse regarding race and culture in our country and around the world," said Watson. "Ta-Nehisi's words lend themselves to an experience that is shared by so many of us. I'm thrilled to work with HBO and these brilliant minds on a special that is both timely and urgent."

Added Williams, "Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me is a seminal piece of literature that has pushed crucial conversations around our country and racism to the forefront of our cultural conversation. Having witnessed Ta-Nehisi and Kamilah stage Between the World and Me, I am thrilled to be a part of bringing this powerful work and its message to HBO and an even wider audience."

In addition to producing the special, HBO will make donations to Howard University and the Apollo Theater. 

Coates is repped by UTA, Gloria Loomis of the Watkins Loomis Agency and Del Shaw. Forbes is repped by WME and Lisa E. Davis of Frankfurt Kurnit. Watson is with UTA, Authentic Talent and Literary Management and Jackoway Tyerman. Williams is repped by WME and Granderson Des Rochers.