Jonás Cuarón, who co-wrote the acclaimed feature Gravity with his father, Alfonso Cuarón, is set to adapt Undocumented America, a manuscript by journalist — and DACA beneficiary — Karla Cornejo Villavicencio as a potential TV series for Brad Weston’s Makeready.
Based on the book to be published by Spiegel & Grau, Undocumented America will be a portrait of the undocumented experience, weaving together diverse stories of immigrants across the country – from New York City and Miami to Flint, New Haven, Cleveland and beyond.
“This is an important story, and one that needs to be told with urgency,” said Mexico-born Jonás Cuarón. “I am so happy to be working alongside Karla, who offers a passionate and personal voice to this complex issue.”
Makeready has been developing the series since May, when it acquired the rights to Undocumented America following Cornejo Villavicencio’s Election Day essay in The New York Times on undocumented Americans and voting. Cornejo Villavicencio is an immigrant from Ecuador and a DREAMer who brings her personal experience as one of the first undocumented students admitted to Harvard’s undergraduate and Yale’s Ph.D. programs. Her future in the U.S. is uncertain following the Trump administration’s decision to rescind DACA.
“Trump doesn’t get to write our funeral,” said Cornejo Villavicencio. “Neither does the media. Neither do I. We are alive as all hell, and I think that’s where the story begins.”
Cornejo Villavicencio is a writer who covers race, science and culture. She has written popular essays for The New Inquiry, n+1, This Recording, and The New Republic, as well as music reviews for Interview magazine and The Atlantic. She is repped by Foundry Literary + Media.
Jonás Cuarón made his major feature film writing debut in 2013 with Gravity, which won seven Academy Awards and earned him a BAFTA nomination for Best Original Screenplay. He made his feature directorial debut with 2016’s Desierto, starring Gael García Bernal and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The film, which Cuarón also co-wrote, followed a group of people trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States when they encounter a man who has taken border patrol duties into his own hands. He’s repped by UTA, Hillary Bibicoff and attorney Henry Holmes.
Likely fueled by the current political environment, TV projects about immigration have been trending this development season. Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez is producing Illegal, a dramedy in the works at the CW about a teen and his parents — all undocumented immigrants — as well as medical drama Have Mercy at CBS based on the German format Dr. Illegal, about an immigrant doctor. Additionally, CBS just bought comedy Welcome to Maine, which revolves around a ninth-generation Maine family and a recent immigrant and his daughter.
Undocumented America is part of the inaugural development slate of Makeready’s television division, headed by Scott Nemes, which funds development and can deficit-finance series, with Entertainment One handling international distribution. The slate also includes the Untitled David James Kelly project with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson’s Appian Way; a series based on the best-selling book They Can’t Kill Us All, by Wesley Lowery; Old City Blues, by screenwriter Arash Amel, based on the Boom graphic novel; Catching Out, from writer/executive producer Amy Harris and executive producer Chloe Grace Moretz; and an adaptation of Robert Kurson’s upcoming book Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man’s First Journey to the Moon.