Anika Noni Rose To Topline ‘For Justice’ CBS Civil Rights Pilot Directed By Ava DuVernay

Anika Noni Rose has been tapped for the lead in CBS’ civil rights crime drama drama pilot For Justice, written by Law & Order veteran Rene Balcer and directed by Selma helmer Ava DuVernay.

The project, from CBS Television Studios, James Patterson Entertainment and Tribeca Productions, is based on James Patterson’s debut crime novel, The Thomas Berryman Number. It centers on Special Agent Natalia “Nat” Chappel (Rose), a cool, laser-focused, tough as nails FBI agent who works in the Criminal Section of the Department of Civil Rights Division and finds herself caught between the radical family she was born into and the professional family she has chosen.

The Department of Justice formed the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division in 1957. Starting in the 60’s, the lawyers from the department teamed up with FBI agents. These teams still exist today in the department but with a nationwide focus — in 2012 alone, 6700 different hate crimes were clocked by the FBI.

For Justice touches on the racial aspects of crime that have been stirring a national debate in the past few months with several high-profile cases, including the civil unrests in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting of Michael Brown, a young black man, by a white cop, and in New York following the accidental death of Eric Garner at the hands of NYPD cops. Rose was among the celebrities who have commented on the issues and took a stand on the grand jury decisions in both cases.

Ferguson is back in the headlines today as the Justice Department announced that it won’t prosecute the cop involved in the shooting death of Michael Brown while issuing a scathing report blasting the city and its law enforcement for racial bias.

Balcer, who serves as showrunner, executive produces For Justice with DuVernay, Tribeca’s Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal and James Patterson Entertainment’s James Patterson, Leopoldo Gout and Bill Robinson. In the pilot, Rose joins Phylicia Rashad who was previously cast in a supporting role.

The character of Nat was conceived as black, the latest lead in a broadcast pilot this season to go to a black actor in what has been a game-changing season for African American thesps.

This marks a reunion with CBS for Tony winner Rose who had a recurring role on the network’s drama series The Good Wife. She’s repped by Innovative, MGMT Entertainment, David Williams Management and UK’s Artists Partnerships.

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