Lionsgate and media maven Oprah Winfrey have partnered with 2020 Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times to develop Hannah-Jones’ interactive project, The 1619 Project, along with the NYT podcast, 1619, into an expansive portfolio of films, television series and documentaries, unscripted programming and other forms of entertainment.
Launched in August of 2019, on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in the English colonies, The 1619 Project is an ongoing series that connects the centrality of slavery in history with an unflinching account of the brutal racism that endures in so many aspects of American life today. With contributions from Black authors, essayists, poets, playwrights, and scholars, the project examines the legacy of slavery in America and how it shaped all aspects of society, from music and law to education and the arts, including the principles of our democracy itself.
Winfrey will serve as a producer along with Hannah-Jones, who will enlist Black creative voices to help adapt her celebrated series. Times Magazine’s Head of scripted entertainment and editor of The 1619 Project Caitlin Roper will also produce.
“We took very seriously our duty to find TV and film partners that would respect and honor the work and mission of The 1619 Project, that understood our vision and deep moral obligation to doing justice to these stories. Through every step of the process, Lionsgate and its leadership have shown themselves to be that partner and it is a dream to be able to produce this work with Ms. Oprah Winfrey, a trailblazer and beacon to so many Black journalists,” said Hannah-Jones. “I am excited for this opportunity to extend the breadth and reach of The 1619 Project and to introduce these stories of Black resistance and resilience to even more American households.”
“From the first moment I read The 1619 Project and immersed myself in Nikole Hannah-Jones’s transformative work, I was moved, deepened and strengthened by her empowering historical analysis,” said Winfrey. “I am honored to be a part of Nikole’s vision to bring this project to a global audience.”
“For many Americans, The 1619 Project was a great awakening and a true history that you probably never learned in school,” said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer. “For others, the project was a fresh analysis of the historical record by one of the world’s leading media authorities. We’re proud to partner with The New York Times, Nikole Hannah-Jones and Oprah Winfrey, a creative talent with unparalleled stature, to amplify Nikole’s voice and reach across our worldwide platform to marshal all of our top creative relationships to translate her vision into a canon of storytelling for a global audience.”
“Since the publication of The 1619 Project last year, we have been searching for the right partners to expand the reach of its message into film and television while preserving the authenticity of its voice,” said New York Times Assistant Managing Editor, Sam Dolnick. “We believe that Lionsgate and Oprah Winfrey are the perfect combination of partners who understand the editorial integrity of The Times and the gravity of The 1619 Project’s message, and have the reach, resources, compassion, and talent relationships to join with us and with Nikole in producing films, television, and other programming for a global audience that do justice to the project.”
“Nikole Hannah-Jones and her deeply reported journalism has done nothing short of challenging the entire history we thought we knew, revealing the true role of slavery and the impact of racial prejudice in shaping the America of today,” said Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Chairman Joe Drake and Lionsgate Television Group Chairman Kevin Beggs. “The truths she uncovers are painful and disturbing, but we are better for it because her crowning accomplishment in shining a spotlight on the previously untold contributions of Black Americans delivers a powerful message of empowerment and inclusion. That is the message that we want to advance through feature films and television series whose storytelling, breadth of scope, and world-class talent do justice to their subject matter.”