Looking to add to its series roster that includes Narcos, Lupin, Barbarians and El Presidente, Gaumont has partnered with Tessa Thompson’s Viva Maude to develop for HBO Luster, the bestselling debut by Raven Leilani.
Scripting will Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury (Fairview), and Lileana Blain-Cruz, recipient of the Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award. They are joint winners of the Obie Award for Marys Seacole, and are among the founders of the exploratory theatre collaboration, Afrofemononomy.
Edie is a young Black artist living a precarious existence in New York City when she takes a white lover in an open marriage, eventually moving in with him and his wife in the suburbs. There she not only finds herself in an increasingly tense relationship with the couple, but also becoming an unlikely mentor to their adopted Black daughter Akila. The debut novel quickly became a number one bestseller on the NYT, LAT and other lists.
The potential English language drama series for HBO marks the first collaboration between Gaumont and Viva Maude’s Thompson and Kishori Rajan (Random Acts of Flyness). They will be Executive Producers and leading the project for Gaumont are SVP Creative Alexandra Hunter, SVP, Creative, and VP Creative Sean Wolfson, under EVP Creative Content U.S. for Gaumont, Terry Kalagian.
Nicolas Atlan, President of Gaumont US said company toppers are “beyond thrilled to be developing Luster with HBO and Viva Maude’s Tessa Thompson and Kishori Rajan. We were riveted by this groundbreaking book, written by the incredibly talented Raven Leilani, and are blown away at how quickly the series creative team which includes our writers, Lileana Blain-Cruz and Jackie Sibblies Drury, has come together. We can’t wait to get started.”
It isn’t clear at this point if Thompson will star. She has a strong relationship with HBO from Westworld. She is generating awards buzz for the Sundance hit Passing, and who wrapped the lead role of Valkyrie in the Taiki Waititi film Thor: Love and Thunder, Said Thompson of the book: “Luster marks the daring debut by Raven Leilani, a seminal voice for her generation. In her work, which defies categorization, there is an astonishingly singular quality that speaks to spirit of the types of narratives Viva Maude aims to showcase — bold, beautifully crafted, unapologetically human, imaginative and unconventional — it is thrilling to be teamed with Gaumont and the stunning talents of Jackie Sibblies Drury and Lileana Blain-Cruz to develop this story at HBO, the perfect home.”
Leilani is represented by Ellen Levine at Trident Media and Anonymous Content; Thompson by Mosaic, WME and Jackoway Tyerman.
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