Cynthia Erivo to Star in Musical Drama 'Talent Show' for Universal (Exclusive)

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Lena Waithe ('Master of None') wrote the latest version of the script.

Cynthia Erivo, the Tony, Emmy and Grammy Award winner who was Oscar-nominated for her work in 2019’s Harriet, has come aboard Talent Show, a musical drama set up at Universal.

Gandja Monteiro (Vida, The Chi) will direct the project, which is based on an idea by Duane Adler, the Save the Last Dance scribe who originated the Step Up franchise.

Talent, a working title, is the story of a failed songwriter, to be played by Erivo, who returns home to Chicago to lead a group of at-risk youth in their annual talent show.

Lena Waithe wrote the latest version of the script. Aimee Lagos (The Chi) and Adler penned previous drafts.

George Tillman Jr. and Robert Teitel, who last made The Hate U Give, will produce for their State Street Pictures. Waithe will executive produce alongside State Street’s Jay Marcus.

The project does not currently have a start date.

Senior executive vp production Erik Baiers and senior vp production Sara Scott are overseeing the project on behalf of Universal. Marcus, who runs development at State Street, will oversee on behalf of the company while Rishi Rajani will oversee for Waithe’s Hillman Grad Productions.

Erivo, who is a singer and songwriter, won a Tony for best actress in a musical for the Broadway revival of The Color Purple. The production also netted her a Grammy win for best musical theater album.

With Harriet, the biopic of abolitionist Harriet Tubman, she received Oscar nominations for best actress and best original song. The multi-hyphenate, who also appeared in Widows and Bad Times at the El Royale, is currently one of the stars of HBO’s Stephen King adaptation The Outsider.

Erivo is repped by UTA, Authentic Talent and Literary Management, and Peikoff Mahan.