'Black Fortunes,' Book On The First Six Black Millionaires, Is Being Developed For Television

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February 21st 2018

Stephanie Allain (Hustle and Flow, Beyond the Lights, Dear White People) and her Homegrown Pictures have pegged their next television project.

She's optioned the rights to Shomari Wills' book Black Fortunes, which is "a series of biographies of former American slaves who endured unspeakable hardships, only to later become the nation’s first black millionaires."

THR reports that sources tell them Allain wants to develop the book for television, specifically as a limited series.

"Job creators, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, activists and most of them former slaves, the subjects of Wills' book exemplify the audacity of the American Dream. These men and women created empires from the embers of slavery and their stories are wildly entertaining," said Allain.


Further description of the book:


"Black Fortunes is an intriguing look at these remarkable individuals, including Napoleon Bonaparte Drew—author Shomari Wills’ great-great-great-grandfather—the first black man in Powhatan County (contemporary Richmond) to own property in post-Civil War Virginia. His achievements were matched by five other unknown black entrepreneurs including:

  • Mary Ellen Pleasant, who used her Gold Rush wealth to further the cause of abolitionist John Brown;

  • Robert Reed Church, who became the largest landowner in Tennessee;

  • Hannah Elias, the mistress of a New York City millionaire, who used the land her lover gave her to build an empire in Harlem;

  • Orphan and self-taught chemist Annie Turnbo-Malone, who developed the first national brand of hair care products;

  • Madam C. J Walker, Turnbo-Malone’s employee who would earn the nickname America’s "first female black millionaire;"

  • Mississippi school teacher O. W. Gurley, who developed a piece of Tulsa, Oklahoma, into a "town" for wealthy black professionals and craftsmen" that would become known as "the Black Wall Street."


Allain's Homegrown Pictures has been busy as of late, including premiering the Mel Jones-directed Leimert Park at Sundance, Dear White People at Netflix, and upcoming Netflix film, Juanita, starring Alfre Woodard and an indie film, The Weekend, directed by Stella Meghie.


by Shadow and Act on February 21st 2018
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