EXCLUSIVE: Less than a week after Empire co-creator Danny Strong and longtime director and executive producer Sanaa Hamri reunited on a Taraji P. Henson-led spinoff of the hip hop drama, the duo is back together again for a dramedy on being young, Arab and female in today’s America.
Penned by Dina Shihabi and Rolla Selbak and in development at the Disney-owned Freeform, Ya Bint focuses on a trio of pals who have moved from the Middle East to Los Angeles. The series will follow friends Maya, Jumana, and Lara through their navigation and experiences across cultures and expectations in the often anything-goes City of Angels, and will be executive produced by Strong and Hamri under their respective overall deals with 20th Century Fox TV.
Tangier, Morocco-born Hamri will helm Ya Bint, whose title is based on an Arabic term intended to get a girl’s interest, with Strong and Danny Strong Productions president Mandy Safavi serving as non-writing EPs. The original series will be co-executive produced by Sundance vet and A Day with a Muslim director Selback, with Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan alumna Shihabi. The Saudi Arabia-born and Dubai-raised Shihabi will also take on a third role in Ya Bint in front of the camera.
In front of the camera himself in Showtime’s Billions and Disney+’s upcoming The Right Stuff, Strong also has the Michael Keaton-starring Dopesick on the menu, as well as the Cookie Lyon in L.A. Empire spinoff.
Ordered straight to series by Hulu, the Barry Levinson-directed and Warren Littlefield EP’d limited series Dopesick, penned by Strong based on the Beth Macy book about America’s opioid crisis, is scheduled to hit the Disney-controlled streamer next year.
Strong is repped by CAA, Sweeney Entertainment and attorney Alan Wertheimer at Jackoway Austen. Hamri is also repped by CAA along with manager Larry Kennar from LKE and law firm Felker Toczek. Shihabi, currently starring in the second season of Netflix’s Altered Carbon, is repped by CAA, Management 360 and law firm Cohen and Gardner.