Zola helmer Janicza Bravo has been tapped to direct and executive produce FX pilot Kindred, an adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s influential novel, with newcomer Mallori Johnson set to star. The project hails from writer Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Watchmen), Courtney Lee-Mitchell (The Reluctant Fundamentalist), Darren Aronofsky and his Protozoa Pictures (Black Swan, The Wrestler), Joe Weisberg (The Americans) and Joel Fields (Fosse/Verdon). FX Productions is the studio. Production is scheduled to begin in September.
Johnson will play the central character Dana, a young Black woman and aspiring writer who has uprooted her life of familial obligation and relocated to Los Angeles, ready to claim a future that, for once, feels all her own. But, before she can get settled into her new home, she finds herself being violently pulled back and forth in time to a nineteenth-century plantation with which she and her family are most surprisingly and intimately linked. An interracial romance threads through her past and present, and the clock is ticking as she struggles to confront the secrets she never knew ran through her blood, in this genre-breaking exploration of the ties that bind.
The novel, which sold over a million copies, has been hailed as a visionary work of science fiction since it was first published more than four decades ago in 1979.
“I first read Kindred 20 years ago,” said Bravo. “I was in college. I hadn’t ever seen myself in a world like that. And certainly not at its center. What might seem like only a portrait of an invisible woman is also a potent embrace of our relationship to history and how it can bring us closer to our future. After what felt like losing over a year of the life I had come to know so well, an opportunity to direct an adaptation of this specific text was a win. On top of that getting to partner with Branden is something I’d been wanting for quite some time.”
Jacobs-Jenkins wrote the pilot and will executive produce with Lee-Mitchell, Aronofsky and Ari Handel of Protozoa Pictures, Weisberg, Fields, Ernestine Walker, Merrilee Heifetz and Bravo.
Most recently, Bravo directed and co-wrote the critically acclaimed film Zola. A24 released the film in theatres on June 30. Starring Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun and Colman Domingo, Zola premiered in competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and is being released in the UK on August 6.
Bravo’s previous film work has screened at AFI, Carnegie Hall, SXSW, Sundance, and Tribeca. Her feature film debut Lemon premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. On the television side, she directed the “Juneteenth” episode of Atlanta, the “Houston” episode of Mrs. America, as well as episodes of HBO’s Divorce, Here and Now, In Treatment, Netflix’s Love and Dear White People and Amazon’s Forever.
Bravo is repped by UTA, 2AM and Lichter, Grossman, Nichols, Adler, Feldman & Clark.
Johnson landed the coveted role after her 2021 graduation from The Juilliard School. She’s repped by Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
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