EXCLUSIVE: MGM/UA Television has acquired the rights to Rebecca Carroll’s upcoming memoir Surviving the White Gaze in a competitive situation ahead of its release. Simon & Schuster is set to publish the book on February 2, 2021.
Carroll is set to adapt her memoir as a limited series and serve as an executive producer on the project. The project was brought to MGM by Killer Films, and represents the first series to come out of the company’s first-look deal with the studio. Killer Films’ Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler will also serve as executive producers.
“The opportunity to work with both Killer Films and MGM is an absolute dream collaboration, and to be able to adapt my own deeply personal journey under such fiercely creative leadership is incredibly thrilling,” said Carroll.
The memoir follows Carroll’s life as the only Black person in a rural New Hampshire town. Adopted at birth by artistic parents who believed in peace, love, and zero population growth, her early childhood was loving and idyllic — and yet she couldn’t articulate the deep sense of isolation she increasingly felt as she grew older.
Her life changed when she met her birth mother, a young white woman, who consistently undermined Carroll’s sense of her Blackness and self-esteem. Carroll’s childhood became harrowing, and her memoir explores the tension between the aching desire for her birth mother’s acceptance, the loyalty she feels toward her adoptive parents, and the search for her racial identity. As an adult, Carroll forged a path from city to city, struggling along the way with difficult boyfriends, depression, eating disorders, and excessive drinking. Ultimately, through the support of her chosen Black family, she was able to heal. Intimate and illuminating, Surviving the White Gaze is a timely examination of racism and racial identity in America today, and an extraordinarily moving portrait of resilience.
“We were immediately captivated when Christine and Pamela first introduced us to Rebecca’s illuminating and uniquely personal memoir,” said Steve Stark, President of MGM/UA Television. “Bringing an audience to stories and experiences that have not yet been told is a gift that we take seriously at MGM, and we are extremely thankful that Rebecca has entrusted her powerful story with us.”
Vachon and Koffler added, “We have been reading and listening to Rebecca as she has led a rigorous and important conversation about race in America for years. To have the opportunity to work with her on this singularly personal, profound and illuminating story is a privilege. Our partners at MGM immediately saw what we saw in this rich, beautifully written and complex memoir. We can’t wait to get started.”
Carroll is a writer, creative consultant, and host of the podcast, Come Through with Rebecca Carroll: 15 essential conversations about race in a pivotal year for America. Previously, she was a cultural critic at WNYC, and a critic-at-large for the Los Angeles Times. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, New York Times, Ebony, Essence, the Guardian and New York Magazine, among other publications. She has authored many books about race in America, including the award-winning Sugar in the Raw: Voices of Young Black Girls in America. She is repped by Maria Massie at MMQ, WME and Victoria Cook.
MGM is known for its Emmy-winning slate of critically acclaimed TV series including Fargo (FX), The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu), Vikings (History), Condor (AT&T Audience Network), Vikings: Valhalla (Netflix) and Clarice (CBS). As part of MGM’s Spanish language joint venture with Gato Grande Productions, the studio also produces Netflix’s Luis Miguel: The Series. Killer Films has produced critically acclaimed indie fare such as the Oscar-winning Boys Don’t Cry and Still Alice, as well as the Oscar-nominated Carol, Far From Heaven and I’m Not There. In addition, Killer Films executive produced Todd Haynes’ Emmy-winning HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce. The company’s upcoming projects include Haynes’ documentary on The Velvet Underground, The World To Come and Ryan Murphy’s untitled Halston miniseries at Netflix starring Ewan McGregor.