Moonlight Director Barry Jenkins Will Direct New Amazon Series The Underground Railroad

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And’s next hit series will be: white people singing off-key about how they saved jazz!

Wait ... no ... I think they gave us the wrong envelope. ... OK, here’s the correct announcement:

Barry Jenkins, director of last year’s highly acclaimed Moonlight, has been tapped to direct a new series based on the award-winning novel The Underground Railroad.


The New York Times reports that Jenkins will reassemble the production team from this year’s Academy Award winner for Best Picture to direct the limited series based on Colson Whitehead’s National Book Award winner. Jenkins will also write the series, as he did with the script for Moonlight, which he adapted from a play by Tarell Alvin McRaney.

The Underground Railroad tells the story of Cora, an enslaved woman who escapes a Georgia plantation by traveling on the Underground Railroad—a secret, subterranean railroad network that transports slaves to freedom. The novel reads like a thrilling collection of short stories with connective tissue as it reveals the tragic dangers of being black in pre-Civil War America.

After making Moonlight, Jenkins had been wavering between turning Colson’s New York Times No. 1 best-seller into a series and filming an adaptation of James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk. Having already written the screenplay for Beale Street, Jenkins decided to dive into the Amazon series first, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Underground Railroad is a massive job,” said Jenkins. “Right now I’m thinking I want to do that over six or seven hours, and that will take a lot of time and consideration because it absolutely has to be done the right way. It’s a landmark work.”


If Jenkins wins an Emmy for the series, people are already wagering whether Hollywood will mistakenly award it to the cast of The Voice or Honey Boo Boo.

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Michael Harriot

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