Hot on the heels of the news that Lena Waithe has inked an overall deal with Amazon, Waithe's first project at the streamer has cast its leads.
Shadow And Act has learned that Deborah Ayorinde and Ashley Thomas have been cast in lead roles for the horror anthology series, Them. The series is executive produced by Waithe and written and executive produced by Little Marvin.
The first season, Them: Covenant, will “follow the still-to-be-cast characters of Alfred and Lucky Emory (Thomas and Ayorinde) who decide to move their family from North Carolina to an all-white Los Angeles neighborhood. The family’s home on a tree lined, seemingly idyllic street becomes ground zero where malevolent forces both real and supernatural threaten to taunt, ravage and destroy them."
“My heart was still pounding an hour after I heard this pitch. The show is edge of your seat scary and addictive while also being provocative and socially relevant. We are thrilled to be in business with the incredibly talented Lena Waithe, Little Marvin and Vertigo.” said Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke in a statement last year, when the series was first picked up.
“Little Marvin’s script stayed with me for weeks after I read it. He’s written something that’s provocative and terrifying. The first season will speak to how frightening it was to be black in 1953. It will also remind us that being black in 2018 is just as horrifying. This anthology series will examine the cultural divides among all of us and explore us vs THEM in a way we’ve never seen before," said Waithe at the time.
Little Marvin added, “I’ve always felt that dark, surreal times deserve dark, surreal mirrors to show us ourselves. And at this point in time one of the best ways to examine fractures in our world [is] through the visceral and raw lens of horror. I’m beyond thrilled that our series has found its home with the fine folks at Amazon.”
Waithe's Hillman Grad Productions upcoming slate includes Waithe’s feature film writing debut Queen & Slim, starring Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith, directed by Melina Matsoukas, Twenties, which she created and wrote for BET, HBO’s Untitled Kid Fury Project; and Showtime’s How to Make Love to a Black Woman. She is the creator and executive producer of the Showtime drama series The Chi, which will return for a third season next year, as well as BET's Boomerang which is returning for a second season next year.
Both Ayorinde and Thomas are UK-born actors. Ayorinde, who was raised mostly in California, is most known for several supporting roles in stateside television and film, including Girls Trip, Luke Cage and True Detective. Thomas, also known as the rapper Bashy, has had roles in both the UK and U.S., appearing in Black Mirror, Top Boy and The Night Of. He's had main roles in the short-lived series 24: Legacy and Salvation. Both have been in the wings for a couple of years waiting for their breakthroughs (Ayorinde had been cast in the CBS pilot Main Justice, Thomas had been set as a lead in ABC's NYPD Blue reboot; neither made it to series) — and this will definitely put them on the map.
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