EXCLUSIVE: Starz has put in development Lagordiloca, a drama series that chronicles the rise of street journalist Priscilla Villarreal as she capitalizes on the power of livestream reporting to expose corruption, cartels, and serial killers in the border town of Laredo, Texas. The project, Inspired by Skip Hollandsworth’s and Leif Reigstad’s articles about Villarreal in Texas Monthly, comes from playwright, film/TV writer and filmmaker Hilary Bettis, who is penning the adaptation, Nina Tassler and Denise Di Novi’s PatMa Productions and CBS Studios where the company is based.
A modern-day Folk Hero Tale, Priscilla’s use of social media pushes the boundaries of freedom of speech and press to the extreme, shaking the community’s foundation to its core. But above all else, this is the story of one woman’s unconditional love for her family and community.
Bettis executive produces with Tassler, Di Novi and Joan Boorstein for PatMa and Scott Brown and Megan Creydt for Texas Monthly. Daniel Simon is the PatMa exec overseeing the project.
A high school dropout who narrowly avoided prison in her early 20s, Villarreal, now in her 30s and using the moniker Lagordiloca, has become an unlikely lead news sources in Laredo as she regularly live-streams raw footage from local crime scenes to her 190K Facebook followers. Consistently pushing boundaries, the popular citizen journalist was arrested and taken to court for posting the names of two dead victims on social media before they had been made public by authorities.
“When we read Skip Hollandsworth and Leif Reigstad’s articles in Texas Monthly about Priscilla Villarreal, we knew it was a story we had to tell, said Boorstein. “Priscilla’s journey and her fight for social justice for the people of Laredo is not only filled with drama and high stakes, but also a deep sense of family and community. There is no one better to tell this story than Hilary Bettis. Her deep connection to the material was apparent from the first time we spoke. We are so happy to be partnering with Starz, who have been on the forefront of telling diverse stories with extraordinary women at the center.”
Bettis, the child of a Chicana mother, who grew up on the border, and a Southern father, has been exploring the American identity through a rural Latinx lens in her work. Her play 72 Miles to Go was staged off-Broadway by the Roundabout Theatre Company. In television, she worked on FX’s The Americans, sharing in the show’s Drama Series WGA Award. She recently wrote for the Hulu miniseries The Dropout, and Amazon’s Rodeo Queens.
Texas Monthly is repped by CAA. Bettis is repped by CAA, Grandview, and attorney Jeff Hynick.