The 1st Project From Lionsgate/Nikole Hannah-Jones' 1619 Project Deal Will Be a Hulu Docuseries, With Roger Ross Williams Producing

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Tonja Renée Stidhum
·3 min read
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Nicole Hannah-Jones, left, attends 2019 ROOT 100 Gala on November 21, 2019; Roger Ross Williams attends the International Documentary Association’s 35th Annual IDA Documentary Awards on December 07, 2019.
Nicole Hannah-Jones, left, attends 2019 ROOT 100 Gala on November 21, 2019; Roger Ross Williams attends the International Documentary Association’s 35th Annual IDA Documentary Awards on December 07, 2019.

Let’s take you on a trip to memory lane! Back in July 2020, The Root exclusively announced that Nikole Hannah-Jones, Lionsgate, the New York Times and Oprah Winfrey were teaming up in a major content deal to adapt The 1619 Project into a portfolio of films, television programming and other content across studio platforms.

Exclusive: Oprah Winfrey, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Lionsgate and The New York Times to Adapt The 1619 Project Into Film, TV Programming and More

Well, the first project from that deal has been announced! An upcoming docuseries based on materials drawn from The 1619 Project will debut on Hulu, as part of a distribution agreement between Lionsgate and Disney General Entertainment Content’s BIPOC Creator Initiative led by Tara Duncan. Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams (Music By Prudence, The Apollo) will produce and oversee the series (as well as direct the first episode) and Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning journalist and showrunner Shoshana Guy will serve as showrunner for the upcoming docuseries.

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More info on The 1619 Project, via the official press release sent to The Root:

One of the most impactful and thought-provoking works of journalism of the past decade, The New York Times Magazine’s The 1619 Project was a landmark undertaking that connected the centrality of slavery in U.S. history with an unflinching account of the brutal racism that endures in so many aspects of American life today. It was launched in August 2019 on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in the English colonies that would become the United States. It examines the legacy of slavery in America and how it shaped nearly all aspects of society, from music and law to education and the arts, and including the principles of our democracy itself.

“‘The 1619 Project is an essential reframing of American history. Our most cherished ideals and achievements cannot be understood without acknowledging both systemic racism and the contributions of Black Americans. And this isn’t just about the past—Black people are still fighting against both the legacy of this racism and its current incarnation,” Williams said in a statement. “I am thrilled and grateful for the opportunity to work with The New York Times, Lionsgate Television, Harpo Films and Hulu to translate the incredibly important The 1619 Project into a documentary series.”

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“I could not ask for a more gifted and committed storyteller to entrust The 1619 Project to than Roger Ross Williams,” Hannah-Jones, who claimed the coveted top spot on the 2020 The Root 100 list, said in a statement. “I have long admired the impact and authenticity of his filmmaking, and the fact that we’re working with Disney and Hulu aligns with our vision of partnering with the world’s greatest Black storytellers to bring this project to a global audience.”

'Black People Are America's True Founding Fathers': The Root Presents: It's Lit! Launches With 1619 Project Creator Nikole Hannah-Jones

“We worked hard to get everything right with our first offering,” Winfrey said in a statement. “Adding the reach of Disney and its powerful brand to our collaboration, launching on a great premium platform like Hulu, and bringing together the creative resources of our friends at Lionsgate and The New York Times to support Nikole Hannah-Jones’ narrative and Roger Ross Williams’ vision is the perfect start to our partnership.”

Things are still in the early stages so we don’t yet have a premiere date, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted. We look forward to watching (and learning from) this enriching content!