EXCLUSIVE: With Season 2 of Underground about to go into production, WGN America and Get Lifted Film Co. are deepening their relationship on American hidden history with another series. The company run by John Legend, Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorious has inked a deal for early development on Black Wall Street, I’ve learned. Added to the mix is Get Lifted alum and Obamas first-date pic Southside with You actress-producer Tika Sumpter as an exec producer.
With additional time to get the deal in place for the WME-repped The Haves and the Have Nots star Sumpter in place, the overall agreement about the project focusing on what became one of the largest mass killings of African-Americans in the nation’s history came together pretty quickly, I’ve heard. It makes perfect sense as the critically acclaimed Underground, created by Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, has become WGN’s most-watched original series ever.
“We’re so excited to continue to grow our relationship with WGN America,” Get Lifted’s Jackson told Deadline today. “Our experience working with them on Underground has been fantastic. Additionally, we’re looking forward to working with our friend Tika Sumpter to help tell this incredible story that many people know nothing about.”
Set in Tulsa, OK, in the opening decades of the 20th century, Black Wall Street examines the strong middle-class African-American community that built up in the divided city. Owning businesses and employing many whites in the segregated state, the Greenwood area of Tulsa was a haven for black professionals and raised capital for its own entrepreneurs and ventures. In May 1921, several white attackers burned the neighborhood in a two-day rampage that saw 300 die and the community devastated and largely forgotten for decades.
After several books about the massacre and lobbying by descendants, the Oklahoma Legislature passed the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot Reconciliation Act in 2001, providing scholarships and creating a memorial to the victims that was dedicated in 2010.
Early in the development stage, Black Wall Street could debut in 2018 if picked up to series. Renewed in April, Season 2 of Underground will debut next year.