The premium cable network is adapting the show and book to air as a special event this fall.
It will be directed by Apollo Theater Executive Producer Kamilah Forbes and exec produced by Coates and Susan Kelechi Watson (This Is Us). Oscar-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams (The Innocence Files) is producing through his One Story Up production company.
Originally adapted and staged by the Apollo Theater in 2018, the special will combine elements of that production, including readings from Coates’ book and will also incorporate documentary footage from the actors’ home life, archival footage, and animation.
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The book, which was first published in 2015 by One World, is written as a letter to Coates’ teenage son and recounts the author’s experiences growing up in Baltimore’s inner city and his growing fear of daily violence against the Black community. The narrative explores Coates’ notion that American society structurally supports white supremacy.
The special will be produced under COVID-19 guidelines.
In addition to producing the special, HBO will be making a charitable donation to Howard University and the Apollo Theater.
“Ta-Nehisi’s book is a modern literary classic that provides an essential message for our times,” says Casey Bloys, President, HBO Programming. “We are tremendously proud to bring this incredibly important event to our audiences.”
“I’ve been working with Kamilah for almost as long as I’ve been a writer,” said Ta-Nehisi Coates. “I can think of no one better to put Between The World and Me on screen and no better home for it than HBO.”
“As people across our country continue to speak out about violent, systemic racism and the urgent need for tangible change, Ta-Nehisi’s words resonate as strongly today as they did five years ago,” said Kamilah Forbes. “I’m excited to collaborate again with both Ta-Nehisi and HBO on this important special event, ensuring that the powerful voices in this work, and cry for justice from the Black community, continues to reach a broader audience.”
“Through Between The World and Me we intend to create a space of communion where Black people can metabolize our grief, celebrate our joys and continue to amplify the current discourse regarding race and culture in our country and around the world,” said Susan Kelechi Watson. “Ta-Nehisi’s words lend themselves to an experience that is shared by so many of us. I’m thrilled to work with HBO and these brilliant minds on a special that is both timely and urgent.”
“Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between The World and Me is a seminal piece of literature that has pushed crucial conversations around our country and racism to the forefront of our cultural conversation,” said Roger Ross Williams. “Having witnessed Ta-Nehisi and Kamilah stage Between the World and Me, I am thrilled to be a part of bringing this powerful work and its message to HBO and an even wider audience.”
Coates is represented by UTA, Gloria Loomis of the Watkins Loomis Agency, and Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano; Kamilah Forbes is represented by WME and Lisa E. Davis of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC; Susan Kelechi Watson is represented by United Talent Agency, Authentic Talent and Literary Management, and Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein and Roger Ross Williams is represented by WME and Granderson Des Rochers.
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