EXCLUSIVE: Ashley Holland, former TV lit agent and partner at WME, has officially joined Onyx Collective as SVP of Scripted Series. She is one of three new executive hires at Onyx as the brand is building up its scripted operation, along with producers Anil Kurian, who is coming from G-Unit Film and Television, and Janice Park, most recently at Made Up Stories, who will both serve as VP of Scripted Series. All three will report to Tara Duncan, president of Freeform and Onyx Collective, Disney’s content brand designed to curate a slate of premium programming by creators of color and underrepresented voices.
Holland, Kurian and Park will spearhead the development and production of Onyx’s scripted series and specials across all programming categories and formats. The three executives round out Duncan’s programming leadership team, which includes nonfiction programming executives Jacqueline Glover, head of Documentary and Jihan Robinson, VP of Alternative.
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“Building an entertainment brand from the ground up requires a special skill set and innate love of storytelling,” Duncan said. “Ashley, Janice and Anil are the perfect fit for Onyx — they’re respected, passionate, creative executives with discerning taste and a reputation for having great relationships with creators. I couldn’t be more excited for them to take the reign of Onyx Collective’s scripted slate and help bring our vision to life.”
As Deadline previously reported, Holland headed to Onyx in late April when she left WME where she had been a partner who represented top-level talent, including Prentice Penny and Ryan Coogler (both with Onyx Collective overall deals), Boots Riley, Riz Ahmed and more. She was intimately involved in the selling of shows like HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show and Starz’s P Valley and was instrumental to WME’s growth as a company to develop their next generation of leaders and their diversity and inclusion efforts. She serviced such agency clients like Halle Berry and Janelle Monae and worked intimately with independent studio clients like Media Res (Morning Show) and Macro TV Studios (Raising Dion). Holland started her career at CAA where she spent eight years, rising through the ranks to agent in the television department and helped spearhead initiatives like CAA Amplify that champion connectivity for high level diverse executives and influencers.
“I’ve built a career advocating for stories centered around the lives of people of color,” Holland said. “I couldn’t be more honored to join a company where I get to live my values every single day. Tara is an executive I’ve collaborated with on many occasions and long admired. She built a bridge to me that I could not help but walk across, and together, with the rest of the team at Onyx, we hope to grow a brand where the content is first and foremost entertaining and synonymous with excellence to creators and audiences.”
Kurian joins Onyx from Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s G-Unit Film and Television, where he was head of Development, overseeing the company’s expansive slate of current series and development, including those under the company’s overall deal with Starz. Prior to his role at G-Unit, Kurian was VP of Original Programming for then-Sony-owned Crackle, where he spearheaded the production and development of scripted dramas, including The Art of More starring Dennis Quaid, Startup with Martin Freeman and Adam Brody, and the Snatch TV reboot starring Rupert Grint as well as multiple feature-length films. Kurian joined Sony following a decade in independent film and TV productions, working on features including Revelations, written by Hernany Perla. As VP at Intrepid Pictures, he produced films including the psychological thrillers Oculus, directed by Mike Flanagan, and Crush, directed by Malik Bader.
“What Tara is building at Onyx is nothing less than extraordinary, and I am so incredibly excited about the opportunity to contribute to her team at such an essential time in our industry,” Kurian said. “Their goal, to create premium content with a much-needed point of view, is one that I can certainly get behind and champion.”
Park was most recently SVP of Development and Production at Made Up Stories, Bruna Papandrea’s production banner behind HBO’s The Undoing, Hulu’s Nine Perfect Strangers and Netflix’s Pieces of Her. During her tenure at Made Up Stories, she oversaw TV and feature film projects set up at Amazon, Apple, Hulu, HBO, Netflix and Universal. Most recently, she produced Pam Veasey’s original series Long Slow Exhale for Spectrum Originals and BET. She is an active supporter of CAPE, NALIP, and Colour Entertainment. Park began her career as an assistant at UTA in the Independent Film Packaging Group and TV Literary Department.
“To join Onyx Collective and this world-class team with a shared vision that is a direct reflection of my own values and taste is a dream come true and the opportunity of a lifetime,” Park said. “Tara is a force to be reckoned with, and no other brand on this level exists for premium, uncompromising storytelling from creators of color. I am humbled and excited by the task at hand and can’t wait for audiences to see what’s next.”
Launched a year ago, Onyx won its first Academy Award for Questlove’s feature doc Summer of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not be Televised), which streams on Hulu, Disney+ and Star+. Onyx’s first scripted drama, Reasonable Doubt, starring Emayatzy Corinealdi, will launch later this year and is produced by Kerry Washington’s Simpson Street, ABC Signature and Wilmore Films. Washington will also produce and star in Onyx Collective’s first comedy series, the recently announced Unprisoned. Additionally, Onyx landed the competitive limited series The Plot, starring and exec produced by Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali. The content brand has overall deals with prolific producers Ryan Coogler, Prentice Penny, Natasha Rothwell and Destin Daniel Cretton.
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