Tracee Ellis Ross to Lead 'Daria' Spinoff as MTV Studios Looks to Build Animated Franchise

'Jodie' is the first in a series of spinoffs of the comedy in the works at MTV Studios. A network is not yet attached.
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'Daria' (Inset: Tracee Ellis Ross)

MTV Studios' new take on Daria is coming into focus.

The Viacom-owned cable network's studio counterpart has tapped Emmy winner Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish) to voice and executive produce Jodie, the first in a series of spinoffs based on the beloved animated comedy Daria. A network is not yet attached.

Jodie is the first in what MTV Studios hopes will become the "Daria universe," which in success would feature multiple TV series and films and honor the history of MTV Animation. Additional details about other series and films were not available.

A new take on Daria was first announced a year ago, when Viacom launched MTV Studios in a bid to monetize its library content and sell to networks and streamers outside of its cable portfolio. The series was originally set to be called Daria and Jodie and revolve around the two friends as they deconstruct pop culture, social classes, gender and race.

The new Jodie, which hails from the same writer — Grace Nkenge Edwards (Insecure) — will be centered around Daria's friend, an African-American character from the original series who was credited with helping to shape a generation of women. The project will follow Jodie as she comes into her own and enters the workplace in her first post-college job in tech. Other former students from Daria's Lawndale High will also appear. Jodie will satirize workplace culture, Gen Z struggles, themes of empowerment across gender and racial lines and explorations of privilege.

The original Daria, a spinoff from Mike Judge's Beavis and Butt-Head, ran for five seasons on MTV from 1997-2002.

"Being able to give voice to fresh, feminist and unexplored stories of young women excites me," Ross said. "Jodie will spin off from the cult classic Daria, and with the brilliant, sweet and sarcastic black-girl magic that is Jodie Landon, we will feature a diverse cast, comprised mainly of unapologetically smart and ambitious young female characters who are vulnerable and flawed and interesting and funny. As a very cool bonus, Jodie will be the first adult animated show in almost 20 years that will star a black woman. It will be a smart, funny workplace comedy full of commentary about everything from gentrification to sex to tech to call-out culture."

The Daria show was among the first slate of projects to get the revival treatment, part of a larger effort by Viacom's MTV Studios to sell to third-party outlets and further monetize its rich programming vault. The studio, overseen by MTV, VH1 and Logo president Chris McCarthy, was launched last year and has already sold a new take on The Real World to Facebook Watch, as well as revivals of Punk'd and Singled Out to Quibi.

MTV Studios is also developing series based on Aeon Flux and Celebrity Deathmatch and is prepping a documentary films division, which longtime HBO exec Sheila Nevins will oversee.

"Given the passion for these characters, there was only one person who could build upon the legacy to reimagine Jodie for a whole new generation, and that person is Tracee Ellis Ross," McCarthy said. "This marks another exciting step forward for MTV Studios as we build out a wide new slate based on the rich characters from the history in MTV Animation."

In addition to Ross and Edwards, MTV's Trevor Rose, Morgana Rosenberg and Amy Doyle will exec produce Jodie.

Ross, who also produces ABC's Black-ish and the forthcoming prequel Mixed-ish, is repped by UTA, Artists First and Hansen Jacobson.