EXCLUSIVE: Disney Channel has handed a pilot order to Saturdays, a single-camera comedy about a young girl and her competitive roller skating crew, from 16-year-old Black-ish star Marsai Martin via her Genius Entertainment and writer-executive producer Norman Vance Jr. (Roll Bounce, Girlfriends). Charles Stone III (Drumline, black-ish) will direct.
Written by Vance, the pilot centers on Paris Johnson, played by Danielle Jalade (Yes Day), a 13-year-old girl who has spent most of her life roller-skating.
Saturdays follows Paris, who, since the age of four, has been honing her skills on the cool parquet floor of Saturdays, a local skating rink owned and operated by a former ’90s hip-hop back-up dancer. With its neon lights, galaxy-painted rink and killer D.J. spinning the latest music, Saturdays is the place to show and prove. Paris is the leader of a skate crew and is determined to take them all the way to the top. However, she has sickle cell disease, and when it flares up, it’ll take every ounce of determination to prove the doubters wrong, including her concerned family.
Omar Gooding (Family Time) and Golden Brooks (Girlfriends) will play Paris’ parents, Cal and Deb, and Jermaine Harris (The Map of Tiny Perfect Things) will portray her older brother and aspiring D.J., London. Daria Johns (Nappily Ever After) and newcomer Samantha Smith have also been cast as Paris’ best friends and skating partners, Simone and Roxy, respectively. Additionally, Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist Yolanda “Yo-Yo” Whitaker will recur as roller rink owner Duchess.
“When we met with Marsai about this project, we couldn’t have been more impressed with her passion for diverse storytelling and commitment to female empowerment,” said Rafael Garcia, vice president, Development, Disney Branded Television. “We’re extremely excited to team up with Norman and the Genius Entertainment team to tap into roller-skating culture in a way that’s truly both authentic and aspirational for our audience.”
Martin and Nicole Dow will executive produce for Genius Entertainment. Martin’s parents Joshua and Carol Martin also will executive produce.
Genius Entertainment, founded by Martin alongside Joshua and Carol Martin, creates stories meant to inspire, illuminate, and celebrate the diverse experiences of girls and people of color. Martin starred in and executive produced the 2019 feature film Little. She portrays Diane Johnson on black-ish, a role which has earned her seven NAACP Image Awards.
Veteran TV and film writer Vance’s credits include Moesha and Girlfriends. Vance has written and produced several films, including Roll Bounce, followed by Beauty Shop and Pride. He most recently served as supervising producer on the series American Soul, Swagger and Queen Sugar.
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