QUEEN SUGAR Renewed for Season 3, Ava DuVernay Inks First-Look TV Deal with Harpo Films
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 Liesl Tommy: Liesl Tommy is an award-winning director. "Queen Sugar" marks the beginning of her upcoming film and television directing projects. Her recent Broadway production of Danai Gurira's play Eclipsed starring Lupita Nyong'o garnered 6 Tony nominations including Best Play. She made history as the first woman of color ever to be nominated for a Tony for Best Director of a Play. Liesl also recently developed and directed Frozen LIVE, the multi-media theatrical extravaganza adaptation of the Disney film for the 2000 seat Hyperion Theater in Disneyland.
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.