Deception alumna Ilfenesh Hadera is set for a lead role opposite Forest Whitaker in Godfather of Harlem, Epix’s straight-to-series crime drama, starring and executive produced by Whitaker. The series hails from Narcos co-creator Chris Brancato and Paul Eckstein, and ABC Signature Studios. Vincent D’Onofrio also stars.
Written and executive produced by Brancato and Eckstein, Godfather of Harlem tells the true story of infamous crime boss Bumpy Johnson (Whitaker), who in the early 1960s returned from ten years in prison to find the neighborhood he once ruled in shambles. With the streets controlled by the Italian mob, Bumpy must take on the Genovese crime family to regain control. During the brutal battle, he forms an alliance with radical preacher Malcolm X – catching Malcolm’s political rise in the crosshairs of social upheaval and a mob war that threatens to tear the city apart.
Hadera will play Mayme Johnson wife of Bumpy (Whitaker) and nobody’s fool. She knows the take of every numbers spot from 110th to 168th, but still makes a Sunday meal that draws a full house of friends and family every weekend. A testament to the power of the African-American mother as insulator, protector and champion. She’s also a dynamo who won the most powerful black man in Harlem.
Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi executive produce via Whitaker’s Significant Productions, along with Eckstein, James Acheson and Markuann Smith. Brancato will serve as showrunner.
Hadera recently wrapped Season 2 of Spike Lee’s Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It, reprising her role as Opal Gilstrap. She’s also coming off a starring role in ABC’s Deception. Her other credits include HBO’s Show Me A Hero and Showtime’s Billions. A frequent collaborator with Lee, Ilfenesh also appeared in his films Chiraq opposite Samuel L. Jackson and Oldboy opposite Josh Brolin. Ilfenesh is repped by Gersh and Untitled.