EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has optioned City Of Saints & Thieves, the bestselling debut novel by Natalie C. Anderson. Will Packer’s Will Packer Productions and Kerry Washington’s Simpson Street production company are in negotiations to produce. James Lopez, Packer’s Head of Motion Pictures, will also produce. They are moving quickly on this project: Melina Matsoukas, exec producer and director of the HBO series Insecure is being sought as director.

The 69th Annual Directors Guild Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 04 Feb 2017

The protagonist is Tina, a girl who has been living on the streets of Kenya since her mother’s murder. Recruited by a gang of orphans and street kids, Tina gets closer to exacting revenge for her mother’s death, but soon discovers that she may not have all the facts. This is the second book that Scandal star Washington has come involved in; last week TriStar preempted The Perfect Mother, a thriller novel by Aimee Molloy that will be crafted as a star vehicle for Washington, who’ll produce with Amy Pascal.

CAA reps the author along with Faye Bender at The Book Group; Packer is CAA and Ziffren Brittenham LLP, and Washington is CAA, Washington Square Films and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller.