Freeform has teamed with Selena Gomez and Aaron Kaplan for a drama series project. Described as a Latina Empire, the untitled drama, now in development, is set in a low income Latino neighborhood and is told through the eyes of an 18-year-old girl destined for greatness. Gomez executive produces with Kaplan through his Kapital Entertainment and Mandy Teefey. Los Angeles high school senior Ana Cobarrubias serves as a consultant on the project, which is looking for a writer.
The project stems from an idea by Kaplan who got the inspiration while attending The Zimmer Children’s Museum Discovery Award Dinner last November to present an award to his attorney, James Mandelbaum, who was being honored alongside Freeform’s EVP programming Karey Burke. One of the speakers at the event was Cobarrubias, who captivated the audience, getting a standing ovation for her speech about making a difference in her poor East LA neighborhood and her determination to defy society’s expectations for someone like her by being a strong and confident young woman. Here is a video:
Inspired by Cobarrubia’s speech, Kaplan reached out to Burke with the idea for the series. Burke liked it, and the two approached Gomez, who came on board as an executive producer. There are no plans for her to act. The show will be co-produced by Freeform and Universal Cable Prods., whose president Jeff Wachtel, was an honorary chair at the Zimmer Museum’s dinner, organized by his wife Sheryl. Kaplan sought out Cobarrubias, who had said in her speech that she plans to pursue a career in cinematic arts so she could tell the stories of people from low-income neighborhoods like hers. She was brought in as a consultant on the project.
At Freeform, Kaplan also has a comedy starring Nicki Minaj, which recently shot a pilot directed by Tim Story. The project, based on Minaj’s childhood, has a series commitment. Previously, Kaplan executive produced the Freeform series Chasing Life and Kevin From Work.
Gomez and Teefey also are executive producing Netflix’s upcoming series 13 Reasons Why, which has set Tom McCarthy to direct the first two episodes. Gomez is repped by WME and Lighthouse Management and Media.