Showtime has given a series order to hourlong drama The Chi, from Lena Waithe, Elwood Reid, Common, Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment and Fox 21 TV Studios. The project, originally piloted last year and later redeveloped, was recently put on track for a series pickup after Dope writer-director Rick Famuyiwa came on board as new director. As part of the recasting stemming from the redevelopment, Straight Outta Compton’s Jason Mitchell joins the cast as a regular.
Created/executive produced by Waithe, executive produced/showrun by Reid and executive produced by Common and Kaplan, The Chi is a relevant, timely and distinctive coming-of-age story and follows a half dozen interrelated characters in the South Side of Chicago. Mitchell will play Brandon, an ambitious and confident young man who dreams about opening a restaurant of his own someday, but is conflicted between the promise of a new life and his responsibility to his mother and teenage brother back in the South Side.
Famuyiwa will executive produce and direct the premiere episode.
While the original Chi pilot, directed by Clark Johnson, did not go to series, Showtime brass liked the general premise and Waithe’s voice. A small writers room was set up to produce several scripts and outlines, including a new pilot script. Based on the new material, Showtime and Fox 21 proceeded to hire Famuyiwa as a new director.
Mitchell recently wrapped production on Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit riots drama as well as Dee Rees’ Mudbound which will premiere at Sundance this year. He can next be seen in WB’s Kong: Skull Island, which hits theaters on March 10. Mitchell is repped by UTA, Authentic Talent and Literary Management, and Ziffren Brittenham.