HBO is building out the cast for its drama pilot Mogadishu, Minnesota, written, directed and executive produced by rapper K’naan Warsame and executive produced by Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker‘s Kathryn Bigelow.
Elvis Nolasco (American Crime), K.C. Collins (RoboCop), Rif Hutton (Hotel Transylvania), Ezana Alem (Oasis), Hanad Abdirahman Abdi, Selam Tadese, Prince Abdi, Yusra Warsama and Liya Kebede (The Best Offer) have joined the cast. All will be regulars if the pilot is picked up to series.
Mogadishu, Minnesota is a family drama that grapples with what it means to be American – among the Somalis of Minneapolis.
Alem is Sameer, the Somali All-American boy: handsome, excellent student, planning to go away to college with his beautiful girlfriend, Lacy. He’s devoted to his parents, yet pressured by their hopes and dreams for him.
Abdirahman Abdi, repped by Pantheon and JST Management, is Ali, a bright, likable young man who is polite and respectful to his family and loyal to his best friend, Sameer.
Tadese plays Bisbaas, a renowned gangster with a friendly laugh and a surprising violent streak. Beloved by his nephew Ali, he returns to the neighborhood after years of banishment by his sister and brother.
Hutton is Afrah, Sameer’s father, a former professor in Somalia who works at a rental car company since immigrating to the United States. His experience has given him a detached wisdom and a wry sense of humor. He is preparing to take the American citizenship test.
Prince Abdi portrays Big Man, a spliff-smoking petty thug who takes care of his blind grandmother. He has filled the void left by Bisbaas’s banishment and now is threatened by his return.
Nolasco, repped by APA and Silver Lining Entertainment, is Liban, Ali’s uncle and proud owner of Liban’s Classy Hookah. He’s an upright citizen who prizes the family’s reputation above all else. He is not pleased when his brother, Bisbaas, returns to town.
Warsama is Hawo, Sameer’s mother, hard-working and a loving parent. She holds fast to traditional Somali family values, which often conflict with the agenda of an American teenager.
Collins is Jamal, Street-wise, mysterious and handsome, with an effortless charisma, he fashions himself after revolutionaries and tries to live his life by the book.
Kebede plays Maryam, Ali’s mother, strong-willed, vivacious and is the glue holding her family together. She is deeply troubled by her quarreling brothers.
Carolyn Strauss also executive produces with Warsame and Bigelow. Shooting begins in October in Minneapolis.