Ava DuVernay Expands Partnership With Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films

      

AWARD-WINNING FILMMAKER AVA DUVERNAY EXPANDS CREATIVE PARTNERSHIP WITH OPRAH WINFREY VIA FIRST-LOOK DEAL WITH HARPO FILMS FOR TELEVISION AND DIGITAL MEDIA

OWN Announces Third Season Renewal of DuVernay’s Acclaimed Drama “Queen Sugar,” From Warner Horizon Scripted Television

“Queen Sugar” Season Two Adds Michael Michele, Roger Guenveur Smith and Beverly Todd in Recurring Roles; Directors Garrett Bradley, Liesl Tommy and Christina Voros Tapped to Helm New Episodes

Los Angeles – Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films announced today it has partnered with award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay (“13th,” “A Wrinkle in Time”) on a first-look deal for television and digital media. The first collaboration is DuVernay’s recently announced limited drama series “Central Park Five” for Netflix from Participant Media, Tribeca Productions and Harpo Films.  Additionally, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network announced it has renewed for a third season DuVernay’s critically acclaimed original drama series “Queen Sugar,” from Warner Horizon Scripted Television.

 

“Queen Sugar” (Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT) chronicles the lives and loves of the Bordelon siblings in Louisiana and recently debuted its second season on OWN (June 20) with its highest-rated episode ever in key adult and female demos. The series is currently averaging 2.4 million viewers (L3) and is consistently one of the most talked-about shows on social media.

 

“I’m so proud of Ava and her ability as a filmmaker to challenge the status quo and push for inclusiveness on screen and behind the camera. I love, love, love the work we have been able to create so far. I am looking forward to developing many more meaningful projects together,” said Oprah Winfrey, CEO, OWN and Harpo Films.

 

“There is fresh air and room to roam. There is an artist-driven atmosphere and an intention to share stories that nourish. There is a spirit of inclusivity and imagination moving at all times,” said DuVernay. “This is the new era of OWN. I’m thrilled to continue to collaborate with Ms. Winfrey as we expand the scope of our storytelling. And I feel fortunate to be a small part of this network at such a wonderful time in its evolution.”

 

In addition to announcing “Queen Sugar’s” third season order, OWN has announced that Michael Michele, Roger Guenveur Smith and Beverly Todd will join the series in recurring roles later in season two.  Michele (“ER,” “Kevin Hill”) and Smith (“A Huey P. Newton Story,” “Do the Right Thing”) will play Darla’s (Bianca Lawson) estranged parents, and Todd (“I Will Follow,” “The Bucket List”) plays Mother Olivia Brown, a much beloved and respected matriarchal activist residing in the 9th Ward.

 

Following a creative initiative established at the series’ outset, DuVernay continues to assemble an all-female directing team. Making their television episodic directing debuts with “Queen Sugar,” Garrett Bradley (Sundance award-winning director, “Alone”), Liesl Tommy (Tony-nominated director, “Eclipsed”) and Christina Voros (acclaimed cinematographer and director “The Ladies,” “Child of God”) will join previously announced Julie Dash (Sundance award-winning “Daughters of the Dust”) to direct upcoming episodes of the second half of season two, airing this fall.

 

About Ava DuVernay

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay was nominated for an Academy Award and won the BAFTA for Best Documentary for “13th” which had the honor of opening the New York Film Festival before premiering on Netflix. The documentary showcased her commitment to activism and reform in the criminal justice system. Previously, she directed the acclaimed feature film “Selma,” which was nominated for two Academy Awards and four Golden Globes.

 

Winner of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival’s Best Director Prize for her previous feature “Middle of Nowhere,” DuVernay’s earlier directorial work includes “I Will Follow,” “Venus Vs,” “My Mic Sounds Nice” and “This is The Life.”

 

DuVernay recently wrapped production on directing Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time” based on the beloved children’s novel of the same name; marking the first time an African American woman has directed a feature with a budget over $100 million. The film, which stars Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling, will be released in March 2018.

 

In 2010, DuVernay founded ARRAY, a film collective which distributes and amplifies the work of people of color and women directors, named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in Hollywood.

 

About “Queen Sugar”

(Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT)

In the contemporary drama “Queen Sugar,” the Bordelon siblings struggle to move forward with their lives as they strive to honor the legacy of their father following his unexpected passing. Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner, “Unforgettable”) relocates to Saint Josephine, Louisiana, to help run the family business. As the only black female sugarcane mill owner, she must fight to regain her independence while rebuilding her relationships with her estranged siblings. Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe, “Girls Trip”) struggles to transform from a formerly incarcerated single father to a landowner in the eyes of his family as he works to restore his relationship with his son’s mother. Nova (Rutina Wesley, “True Blood”) finds herself torn between her activism and her desire to be loved. Together, they must learn to rely on one another as they navigate their tenuous bonds as family.

 

The expansive cast also includes Tina Lifford (“Parenthood”) as the siblings’ free-spirited Aunt Violet; Omar J. Dorsey (“Ray Donovan,” “Selma”) as Violet’s much younger boyfriend Hollywood Desonier; Dondré T. Whitfield (“Mistresses”) as trusted Bordelon family friend Remy Newell; Timon Kyle Durrett (“Single Ladies”) as Charley’s estranged husband and pro basketball player Davis West; Nicholas L. Ashe (“The Lion King” – National Tour) as Charley and Davis’ teenage son, Micah; Ethan Hutchison (“The Path”) as Ralph Angel’s son, Blue; and Bianca Lawson (“Rogue”) as Darla, Blue’s mother who battles drug addiction. Additionally, guest star Henry G. Sanders (“Rocky Balboa”) recurs as Prosper Denton, a farmer and longtime friend of the late Bordelon family patriarch, Ernest. “Queen Sugar” is produced for OWN by Warner Horizon Scripted Television. The executive producers are Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey and Monica Macer. The series is based on the book by Natalie Baszile.

 

The series’ debut season won an NAACP Image Award for Best Drama Series, Television Show of the Year from both ABFF and AAFCA, and was a People’s Choice Awards nominee for Favorite Cable Drama. Season one is currently available for streaming on Hulu.  Season two viewers can catch up on the Watch OWN App and WatchOWN.tv.

 

DuVernay’s handpicked female directing team for season two includes: Garrett Bradley (“Alone”), Kat Candler (“12 Monkeys”), Julie Dash (“Daughters of the Dust”), DeMane Davis (“Lift”), Cheryl Dunye (“Stranger Inside”), Aurora Guerrero (“Mosquita y Mari,”), Amanda Marsalis (“Echo Park”), Maryam Keshavar (“Circumstance”), Liesl Tommy (“Eclipsed”) and Christina Voros (“The Ladies,” “Child of God”).

 

About OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network

OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network is the first and only network named for, and inspired by, a single iconic leader. Oprah Winfrey’s heart and creative instincts inform the brand – and the magnetism of the channel.  Winfrey provides leadership in original scripted and unscripted programming and attracts superstar talent to join her in primetime, building a global community of like-minded viewers and leading that community to connect on social media and beyond. OWN is a singular destination on cable.  Depth with edge.  Heart. Star power. Connection.  And endless possibilities.  OWN is a joint venture between Harpo, Inc. and Discovery Communications.  The network debuted on January 1, 2011.  The venture also includes the award-winning digital platform Oprah.com.  Access OWN anytime, anywhere on WatchOWN.tv or across mobile devices and connected TVs.  For more information, please visit www.oprah.com/own

 

About Warner Horizon Scripted Television

A division of the Warner Bros. Television Group, Warner Horizon Scripted Television was founded in 2006 and is one of the entertainment industry’s leading producers of dramatic and comedic programming for the cable and subscription/on-demand marketplace. Series produced by Warner Horizon Scripted Television include Animal Kingdom and Claws for TNT, People of Earthfor TBS, American Woman for Paramount Network, Famous in Love for Freeform, Fuller House and Longmire for Netflix, Kryptonfor SYFY, Love Is ___ and Queen Sugar for OWN, and You for Lifetime.

 

About Harpo Films

Harpo Films, Inc. produces acclaimed feature films and scripted television programming. Past features include the Academy Award-nominated “Selma” starring David Oyelowo and Golden Globe-nominated “The Hundred-Foot Journey” starring Helen Mirren. Recent television projects include OWN’s hit drama series “Greenleaf” with Lionsgate and the Emmy-nominated HBO film “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” starring Oprah Winfrey.