EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation, Peacock has landed for development What She Said, an hourlong series from Erika Green Swafford (New Amsterdam) and Good Girls creator Jenna Bans. The project hails from Universal Television and BuzzFeed Studios and stems from Green Swafford and Bans’ overall deals and BuzzFeed’s first-look pact with the studio, part of Universal Content Studios.
Written and executive produced by Green Swafford, What She Said is inspired by Bim Adewunmi’s 2018 BuzzFeed News story “Meet the Women Who Are Building a Better Romance Industry”. It explores self-love, society’s beauty standards, and challenges the old, predominantly white narratives of who gets to fall in love. With romance novels at its spine, this series will lean into the wish fulfillment and sexiness that are the hallmarks of the romance industry and highlight the awkwardness, emotionality, and psychology of finding the courage to embrace your full self out in the real world.
“We are thrilled to be developing this drama with inspired creatives like Erika and Jenna who are sharing new perspectives while telling stories we don’t often hear,” said Lisa Katz, President, Scripted Content, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. “Building off of BuzzFeed‘s pulse on pop culture What She Said is exactly the type of compelling programming we’re looking to explore.”
What She Said was the first project Uni TV and Buzzfeed set up last summer under a first-look deal arrangement for the studio to produce scripted content based on stories and original reporting published by the tech-powered media company.
The project’s premise has received a boost and newfound visibility in the wake of the blockbuster success of Netflix’s Bridgerton, which has shattered racial stereotypes of period romance.
“Black women have long been the unsung dominant force of the romance novel industry and now, thanks to Erika’s vision, they are the protagonists of our story,” Universal Television President Erin Underhill said. “We can’t wait to dive in with our partners Jenna Bans, BuzzFeed and Peacock and help bring this genre bending world from the page to the screen.”
Bans executive produces and Casey Kyber co-executive produces via Bans’ Minnesota Logging Company. BuzzFeed Studios’ Richard Alan Reid executive produces, Karolina Waclawiak co-executive produces and Charlotte Simms produces. Adewunmi serves as a consulting producer.
Green Swafford, currently a consulting producer on Uni TV’s New Amsterdam, started her career as a script coordinator at Oxygen, where she was on an executive career track until she switched to writing.
Bans has been under an overall deal at Universal TV since 2016. She was previously at ABC Studios where she created and executive produced the praised ABC drama series The Family starring Joan Allen. She previously served as co-executive producer on ABC’s Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy and also worked on Desperate Housewives and Private Practice. Bans is repped by UTA and Morris Yorn Barnes Levine.
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