EXCLUSIVE: Tessa Coates may be the discovery of the 2018-19 development season. The young British writer, performer, journalist and comedian is set to create, star in and executive produce a comedy series project, executive produced by The Office’s Greg Daniels. In a competitive situation, the project has been set up at ABC with a put pilot commitment. ABC Studios is producing.
Coates will executive produce alongside Daniels and his longtime manager/producing partner, 3 Arts’ Howard Klein. The concept for the series is still being honed in.
Until recently, Coates, who describes herself as a “writer, performer, freelance journalist, enthusiastic teller of anecdotes that may or may not have happened,” was virtually unknown in the US. One-third of the sketch group Massive Dad, she first got attention with her debut solo show, Primates, at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. A run at the Soho Theatre in London in April and June 2018 followed. Also in June, ahead of the 2018-19 broadcast development season, Coates flew in to Los Angeles to perform her show at the Lyric Theatre and Improv Lab. (You can watch a video of Coates discussion Primates, inspired by her college degree in anthropology, under the post.)
Fueled by word of mouth, by the last date the LA show was sold out with Coates performing before a room full off Hollywood executives. That led to a number of general meetings with producers, including Daniels, and multiple network offers for blind development/talent holding deals. Coates ultimately opted to go with Daniels, ABC and ABC Studios.
Last month, she returned to Edinburgh for her second show, Witch Hunt. As a performer, Coates’ recent credits include Birds of a Feather, Damned, Newsjack, Comic Relief, @elevenish and numerous sketches for BBC Three. She also hosts a number of podcasts including Nobody Panic, Will You Read to Me, and Badass Women from History.
Daniels previously successfully translated British comedy sensibility to the U.S. with his Emmy-winning adaptation of the praised U.K. comedy series The Office, which he executive produced. His latest comedy, Upload, was recently picked up to series by Amazon Studios.
Coates is repped by WME and the U.K.’s Curtis Brown. Daniels is repped by WME, 3 Arts and Ziffren Brittenham.