David Oyelowo’s Yoruba Saxon Label Inks First-Look Production Deal With Walt Disney Pictures

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Anthony D'Alessandro
·3 min read
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EXCLUSIVE: Multiple Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Emmy-nominated actor, producer and director David Oyelowo and his wife, actress, writer and producer Jessica Oyelowo, have signed a two-year first-look deal with Walt Disney Pictures for feature length films across all platforms at the studio.

The Oyelowos will produce through their Yoruba Saxon banner, which is focused on creating values-based content for all quadrants, with an aim to shift the culture and color outside the lines.

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Yoruba Saxon’s most recent film and sixth is the upcoming family adventure The Water Man, which marks David’s feature length directorial debut, in which he stars and also features Jessica. The Water Man follows a boy who sets out on a quest to save his ill mother by searching for a mythic figure said to have magical healing powers. Rosario Dawson, Maria Bello and Alfred Molina also star. The pic originally made its world premiere at TIFF last September. RLJE Films is releasing the pic on May 7. ShivHans Pictures and Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films are producers. Below is a trailer:

Disney’s live action film division first worked with Oyelowo on 2016’s Mira Nair-directed biographical drama Queen of Katwe, in which the actor co-starred with Lupita Nyong’o.

“We are excited to be working with David and Jessica Oyelowo who bring incredible thoughtfulness, an impressive and wide-ranging skillset as filmmakers, and deep industry relationships to each project they touch. We saw firsthand David’s meaningful contributions to Queen of Katwe and have admired the films Yoruba Saxon have produced thus far. We look forward to collaborating on engaging new stories with the team at Yoruba Saxon,” said Sean Bailey, President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production.

“The influence of Disney’s films on Jess and I as both parents and lifelong movie fans cannot be overstated. Sean Bailey and Vanessa Morrison have an incredible track record of crafting high-quality films and that is exactly what we hope to do alongside them and the Motion Picture Group at Disney. We are truly relishing the opportunity to collaborate with the most iconic brand in entertainment,” said David Oyelowo.

Yoruba Saxon’s previous film and TV productions include Relativity Media’s Come Away, Searchlight’s A United Kingdom, Paramount’s Captive, FilmRise’s Five Nights in Maine, HBO’s Nightingale, the upcoming Bron Studios’ title Solitary and Disney+’s First Gen.

Oyelowo can next be seen in Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway and Searchlight’s untitled Murder Mystery opposite Saoirse Ronan and Sam Rockwell. He is currently in production on the HBO Max/BBC One psychological thriller limited series The Girl Before, in which he stars with Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

His feature credits include A United Kingdom, Selma, Interstellar, Midnight Sky, A Most Violent Year, Captive, The Butler, Lincoln, Don’t Let Go, The Middle of Nowhere, Jack Reacher, The Paperboy, Red Tails, The Help and The Last King of Scotland. Oyelowo received Golden Globe noms for Selma in the Best Actor category for his turn as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Actor in a Limited Series/TV Movie for Nightingale in 2016. He received two Primetime Emmy noms for Nightingale in the Outstanding TV Movie and Lead Actor Limited Series/TV Movie slots. He received a BAFTA TV award Best Actor nomination for Small Island.

Yoruba Saxon is repped by CAA, and Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano.

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