The Root Presents Role Call: A Black Entertainment Roundup Joint

The Root Presents Role Call: A Black Entertainment Roundup Joint

Role CallRole CallA round-up straight from Hollywood

Of all the things that bring me joy, two things remain at the top of the list: Black movies and Black television shows. Why? Partially because most of the fun, laughable memories of my childhood can be traced back to a moment involving TV or film. The other reason is that I’m a creative at heart, and to see something go from an idea in your head to the big or small screen lights a fire in me like no other. Since projects are always churning out of the giant machine we all know as Hollywood, it makes it hard to keep up with everything going on—which is exactly why we here at The Root put our heads together to bring you something that we hope will help keep you abreast of all the Blackity-black entertainment news happenings you may or may not be aware of.

Better yet, because this report is basically telling y’all all about Black Hollywood’s TV and film business, allow me to reintroduce Lady Welpington. She’ll be in charge of things from here on out (well, at least where the Role Call Roundup is concerned.) So without further ado, I’ll let her take it from here.

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B.Scott & BET

B.Scott & BET

B. Scott attends the 2015 BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on June 28, 2015, in Los Angeles, California.
B. Scott attends the 2015 BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on June 28, 2015, in Los Angeles, California.
Photo: Frederick M. Brown for BET (Getty Images)

*clears throat*

Dearest Reader,

My, how I’ve missed communicating with you all on the various happenings of the world. There’s been quite a bit of buzz about the entertainment ton with regard to Black film and television that I’m sure you’re all eager to hear about, so I shan’t make you wait any longer.

Before we begin, I should like to bring notice to a quite historic partnership between B. Scott and BET. Per the House of Variety, we’ve learned that B.Scott has become the first trans non-binary host and executive producer for the network, flexing their skills for the upcoming official after-show for Lena Waithe’s Twenties, titled Twenties the After Show. They will touch on key themes from each episode in conversation with a lineup of guests, with production expected to begin in the coming months.

“I am proud to make history as the first trans non-binary person to host and executive produce a show at BET,” B. Scott wrote in a tweet. “I am in a place of forgiveness and I am honored to help turn the page on the past and be a part of the network’s move toward a more inclusive future for everyone.”

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Dazzling Diamonds of the Show

Dazzling Diamonds of the Show

Dominique Fishback gets ready for the 2021 Critics Choice Awards on March 07, 2021, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Dominique Fishback gets ready for the 2021 Critics Choice Awards on March 07, 2021, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Photo: Cindy Ord (Getty Images)

Now let’s get things started with our Dazzling Diamonds of the Show. This is where we find our ladies of the telly and cinema who have secured new deals and new roles in upcoming series and films.

First up is Judas and the Black Messiah’s Dominique Fishback, who will be starring opposite Samuel L. Jackson in Walter Mosely’s The Last Days of Ptolemy Gray. The House of Deadline reports that Fishback will play family friend Robyn, who’s there to help Jackson’s Ptolemy in his quest to figure out his past and the mysterious death of his nephew. The official series synopsis, per Deadline:

In The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, produced by Apple Studios, Jackson stars as Ptolemy Grey, a 91-year-old man forgotten by his family, by his friends, by even himself. On the brink of sinking even deeper into lonely dementia, Ptolemy experiences a seismic shift when he’s given the tremendous opportunity to briefly regain his memories and uses this precious and fleeting lucidity to solve his nephew’s death and come to terms with his past.

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Lexi Underwood

Lexi Underwood

Lexi Underwood attends the 51st NAACP Image Awards, Presented by BET, at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 22, 2020, in Pasadena, California.
Lexi Underwood attends the 51st NAACP Image Awards, Presented by BET, at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 22, 2020, in Pasadena, California.
Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

Little Fires Everywhere star Lexi Underwood will be portraying one of our forever First Daughters Malia Obama in the upcoming anthology series The First Lady on Showtime. Official reporting from Variety Manor:

The series is described as a reframing of American leadership, told through the lens of the women at the heart of the White House. Viola Davis will play Michelle Obama, while O-T Fagbenle will appear as President Barack Obama. Malia, the oldest Obama daughter, is described as open-minded and intelligent as she pushes her parents to make socially conscious decisions.

“Sitting in so much gratitude,” Underwood wrote in a tweet. “Michelle Obama, you and the entire Obama family are the epitome of excellence. Malia, I am humbled and honored to tell your story.”

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Cynthia Erivo

Cynthia Erivo

Cynthia Erivo attends the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California.
Cynthia Erivo attends the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California.
Photo: Amy Sussman (Getty Images)

Whisking over to Neverland, Broadway singer and Harriet star Cynthia Erivo will be giving mystical realness soon. The Wrap reports that she’ll be starring as Blue Fairy in Disney’s new live-action film Pinocchio. Debuting exclusively on Disney+, production for the feature is set to begin in the UK next month.

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Storm Reid

Storm Reid

Storm Reid arrives for “The Invisible Man” premiere on February 24, 2020.
Storm Reid arrives for “The Invisible Man” premiere on February 24, 2020.
Photo: VALERIE MACON/AFP (Getty Images)

The House of Deadline also let us know that A Wrinkle in Time’s Storm Reid is in talks to star in Searching 2, the sequel to Sony’s Searching. The original followed “a dad who breaks into his daughter’s computer when she goes missing, in a desperate attempt to track her down.” Though there’s not much to be said about the exact plot, the sequel will feature a new set of characters and “an evolved Screenlife thriller format where the story plays out on the screens of the characters’ devices.”

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Dayna Lynne North

Dayna Lynne North

Dayna Lynne North attends the Broadcast Film Critics Association’s Celebration of Black Cinema on January 7, 2014.
Dayna Lynne North attends the Broadcast Film Critics Association’s Celebration of Black Cinema on January 7, 2014.
Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez (Getty Images)

I, Lady Welpington of The Root have also learned Insecure executive producer Dayna Lynne North has scored an overall deal with Sony Pictures Television. Per The House of Deadline, the two-year deal will see North creating, developing, writing, producing, and supervising comedies and dramas across all platforms. Up next is the new limited series The Best Man, based on Malcolm D. Lee’s original 1999 film.

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Phoebe Robinson

Phoebe Robinson

Phoebe Robinson attends HBO’s 2 Dope Queens LA Slumber Party Premiere on February 2, 2018, in Los Angeles, California.
Phoebe Robinson attends HBO’s 2 Dope Queens LA Slumber Party Premiere on February 2, 2018, in Los Angeles, California.
Photo: Charley Gallay for HBO (Getty Images)

One half of 2 Dope Queens Phoebe Robinson, who penned Everything’s Trash But It’s Okay, will be getting her debut bestselling book adapted for the small screen thanks to Freeform and ABC Signature. According to Variety Manor, Everything’s Trash will center “a 30-something podcast star navigating her messy life, when her younger brother Jayden emerges as a leading politician. When she’s forced to grow up, she relies on her friends and close-knit family to help her figure out adulthood, since she doesn’t seem to have a clue.”

“YAAAAAAAAS, BITCHES!,” Robinson captioned in a post to Instagram. “My thirtysomething self is bringing bone density vitamins, control top Spanx, and “Everything’s Trash,” to Freeform! It’s inspired by my book of the same title, so buy a copy if you haven’t yet! Lol. Anyway! So pumped! Stay tuned!”

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Beverly Bond

Beverly Bond

Beverly Bond attends Black Girls Rock! 2017 at NJPAC on August 5, 2017, in Newark, New Jersey.
Beverly Bond attends Black Girls Rock! 2017 at NJPAC on August 5, 2017, in Newark, New Jersey.
Photo: Dia Dipasupil for BET (Getty Images)

And speaking of deals, you all should be delighted to know that Black Girls Rock CEO Founder and CEO Beverly Bond has signed a new, three-year development deal with BET, expanding their 11-year relationship. Bond told The House of Deadline:

“Bringing the Black Girls Rock! Awards to BET, in 2010, elevated my mission to showcase the brilliance and beauty of Black women. Celebrating our dynamism on a global network has greatly contributed to the paradigm shift that we are witnessing unfold in mass media today. The message that Black girls rock, we are beautiful, and our voices matter has truly penetrated popular culture and reverberated in the spirits of Black women and girls everywhere. As we celebrate the 15th anniversary of Black Girls Rock!, I look forward to working with Scott Mills and the BET team to develop new original content that centers the breadth and depth of Black experiences and elevates the fullness of Black women’s narratives.”

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Angela Robinson

Angela Robinson

Angela Robinson attends the Film Independent Directors Close Up Series - Real Life vs. Reel Life on March 7, 2018, in Los Angeles, California.
Angela Robinson attends the Film Independent Directors Close Up Series - Real Life vs. Reel Life on March 7, 2018, in Los Angeles, California.
Photo: Araya Diaz (Getty Images)

Passing executive producer Angela Robinson has inked an overall multi-year deal with Warner Bros. Television Group, Variety Manor reports. Under this deal, Robinson will create and develop original scripted programming for television across various Warner Bros. platforms including HBOMax, premium and basic cable channels and broadcast networks. Passing, which was directed by Rebecca Hall, premiered at Sundance earlier this year and, as described by The Root, tells the story of “childhood acquaintances Irene Renfield (played by Tessa Thompson) and Clare Kendry (played by Ruth Negga), both Black women light-skinned enough to ‘pass’ for white, but choosing dramatically divergent paths. A chance reunion sparks even more drama, as a mutual curiosity devolves into an obsession with catastrophic results. Incorporating not only colorism and the deeply dangerous phenomenon of “passing,” the film also explores white supremacy, queerness, and Black class identity and mobility.”

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Keke Palmer

Keke Palmer

 Keke Palmer attends the IFP’s 29th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on December 02, 2019 in New York City.
Keke Palmer attends the IFP’s 29th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on December 02, 2019 in New York City.
Photo: Theo Wargo for IFP (Getty Images)

It has come to this author’s attention that the multi-talented Keke Palmer has secured an overall television deal with Entertainment One (eOne). Per a press release sent to The Root, the company will manage worldwide rights and serve as the studio on all projects under the partnership. “So excited to announce my new partnership with eOne!!” Palmer captioned in a post to Instagram announcing the news.” We have already started collaborating and the passion to create is immense in me. Not just as Keke Palmer the talent but Keke Palmer the producer.”

She continued: “I have been in this industry for 18yrs, my career has gone through so many phases and it will continue to! But I never stop, I never give up no matter how difficult it can get because I know nothing happens over night. I know that if I continue to follow my heart and God then I am in alignment and all I have to do is trust God’s timing. If I can offer anything to anyone reading this, it’s to not let the things other people want for you discourage you on your path because what is for YOU is already YOURS. You don’t need the cover of the magazine, you don’t need the followers, you just need to love the WORK! You just need to love what it is you’re doing because that is what will keep you going when life gets crazy. It’s not about outside validation. It’s about sacrifice and dedication for what you are doing and focusing on the bigger picture. I am so thankful! This is a step into the next chapter of my career! My love for the arts goes beyond me but to a place of using art to encourage a narrative that is evolving, fun and inspired!!!

Very thankful to you Shayla Davis I used to be your broke best friend, but now we taking it to the deluxe apartments in the sky!! I told you mommy, we got each other forever! Partner in life, partner in crime and partner is BUSINESS! Now let’s roll out.I’m humbled everyday by the way the arts have transformed my life. This is what I live and breathe and all I have ever wished to do! Thank you Lord,”

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Misha Green

Misha Green

Misha Green attends the Entertainment Weekly and PEOPLE Upfronts party on May 15, 2017, in New York City.
Misha Green attends the Entertainment Weekly and PEOPLE Upfronts party on May 15, 2017, in New York City.
Photo: Bryan Bedder for Entertainment Weekly and PEOPLE (Getty Images)


Lovecraft Country director Misha Green, along with series’ star Jurnee Smollett Bell will be teaming up again for a new action film for Amazon. Titled Fuel, the House of Deadline divulged that the script will be written by Kat Wood and will encompass an action-packed female empowerment story that will subvert the relationship between cars and masculinity. The heroine is a getaway driver who is coerced into working for a criminal and breaking all the rules she set out for herself.”

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Aisha Tyler

Aisha Tyler

Aisha Tyler attends Neuro Brands Presenting Sponsor At The Elton John AIDS Foundation’s Academy Awards Viewing Party on February 09, 2020.
Aisha Tyler attends Neuro Brands Presenting Sponsor At The Elton John AIDS Foundation’s Academy Awards Viewing Party on February 09, 2020.
Image: John Sciulli for Neuro Brands (Getty Images)

Former co-host of The Talk and actress Aisha Tyler has been tapped to produce Silent John, an upcoming feature for Hidden Empire Film Group. Per a press release sent to The Root, the film follows “a young couple that comes to stay at a rustic B&B in Ireland in the weeks before their first child is born. At first charmed by their Irish host, they soon discover he and his mute groundskeeper share a viciously harrowing secret. Soon they cannot discern friend from foe, and their dream getaway becomes a nightmare they cannot escape. Fueled by the historic abuses of the Catholic church against unwed mothers, this socially conscious psychological thriller explores the unholy fanaticism of a man lost in the chasm between faith, the church and madness.” Casting is slated to begin soon with production set to take place in County Galway, Ireland this summer.

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Dashing Diamonds of the Show

Dashing Diamonds of the Show

Lakeith Stanfield attends the 2018 MTV Movie And TV Awards at Barker Hangar on June 16, 2018 in Santa Monica, California.
Lakeith Stanfield attends the 2018 MTV Movie And TV Awards at Barker Hangar on June 16, 2018 in Santa Monica, California.
Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

Now it’s time to discuss some of our Dashing Diamonds of the Show.

Yasuke, a six-episode anime series from LeSean Thomas will be headed to Netflix soon, this author has learned per a press release. Voiced by Judas and the Black Messiah’s Lakeith Stanfield, Yasuke tells the tale of “a Samurai warrior of African descent who must return to his life of sword-fighting and violence in order to protect a mysterious girl from dark forces. In a war-torn feudal Japan filled with mechs and magic, the greatest ronin never known, Yasuke, struggles to maintain a peaceful existence after a past life of violence. But when a local village becomes the center of social upheaval between warring daimyo, Yasuke must take up his sword and transport a mysterious child who is the target of dark forces and bloodthirsty warlords.” The series will debut on Netflix on April 29.

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Idris Elba & Caleb McLaughlin

Idris Elba & Caleb McLaughlin

Illustration for article titled The Root Presents Role Call: A Black Entertainment Roundup Joint
Image: Courtesy of Netflix

Concrete Cowboy, a new Netflix film starring Idris Elba and Stranger Things star Caleb Mclaughlin finally has a release date, this author has learned via a press release sent to The Root. On April 2, subscribers of the streaming giant will be catapulted into the lives of Harp and Cole, an estranged father and son duo who must learn how to rebuild their rocky relationship in an unorthodox way. The official feature synopsis via press release:

When fifteen year-old Cole (Caleb McLaughlin) is expelled from school in Detroit, he is sent to North Philadelphia to live with Harp (Idris Elba), his estranged father. Harp finds solace in rehabilitating horses for inner city cowboys at the Fletcher Street Stables, a real-life black urban horsemanship community that has provided a safe haven for the neighborhood residents for more than 100 years. Torn between his growing respect for his father’s community and his reemerging friendship with troubled cousin Smush (Jharrel Jerome), Cole begins to reprioritize his life as the stables themselves are threatened by encroaching gentrification.

Inspired by the novel “Ghetto Cowboy” by G. Neri, Concrete Cowboy is directed by first-time feature filmmaker Ricky Staub, written by Ricky Staub and Dan Walser and produced by Tucker Tooley, Lee Daniels, Idris Elba, Dan Walser, Jeff Waxman and Jennifer Madeloff. Byron Bowers, Lorraine Toussaint, Clifford “Method Man” Smith and members of the Fletcher Street Stables also co-star in this moving father-son drama about a teen caught between a life of crime and his estranged father’s vibrant urban-cowboy subculture.

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Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart attends Michael Rubin’s Fanatics Super Bowl Party at Loews Miami Beach Hotel on February 01, 2020, in Miami Beach, Florida.
Kevin Hart attends Michael Rubin’s Fanatics Super Bowl Party at Loews Miami Beach Hotel on February 01, 2020, in Miami Beach, Florida.
Photo: Tasos Katopodis for Fanatics (Getty Images)

Laughing Lord Kevin Hart will be giving us all a dramatic glimpse into Fatherhood, for a new film slated to drop on Netflix just in time for Father’s Day. According to the House of Deadline the feature, aptly titled Fatherhood, was originally expected to drop April 16 and comes from Sony and the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions. It will center around “a single dad who brings up his baby girl after the unexpected death of his wife a day after their daughter’s birth.”

“This is a passion project. The movie is amazing,” Hart captioned in part on a post to Instagram. “It gave me an opportunity to change the narrative on the “Black Father” stereotype. As a Black father, I pride myself on trying to be as present as possible in my kids’ lives. I’m not the only Black father that does this, there are so many of us. Seeing a film like Fatherhood is important as hell. I am also happy to be partnering with President Barack Obama & his wife Michelle Obama’s production company “Higher Ground Productions” This is HUGE!!!!!”

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Regé-Jean Page

Regé-Jean Page

Regé-Jean Page attends the Vanity Fair EE Rising Star BAFTAs Pre Party at The Standard on January 22, 2020, in London, England.
Regé-Jean Page attends the Vanity Fair EE Rising Star BAFTAs Pre Party at The Standard on January 22, 2020, in London, England.
Photo: Jeff Spicer (Getty Images)

Bridgerton Bae—I mean, the Duke of Hastings—I mean, Regé-Jean Page has been cast alongside Alfre Woodard, Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling in an upcoming film from the Russo Brothers. Titled The Gray Man, the House of Deadline reports that the feature will follow” freelance assassin and former CIA operative Court Gentry as he’s hunted across the globe by Lloyd Hansen, a former cohort at the CIA.” The film is based on the first installment of the book series written by Mark Greaney. While there’s no word yet on when we can expect the feature to debut on Netflix, production is set to begin near the end of this month. I should like to think we all will make haste expeditiously to see our dashing Duke on our screens yet again once the official word comes out. Until then, burn slowly, dearest reader.

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David Oyelowo

David Oyelowo

 David Oyelowo attends Tyler Perry Studios grand opening gala at Tyler Perry Studios on October 05, 2019, in Atlanta, Georgia.
David Oyelowo attends Tyler Perry Studios grand opening gala at Tyler Perry Studios on October 05, 2019, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo: Paras Griffin for Tyler Perry Studios (Getty Images)

Emmy and Golden-Globe nominee David Oyelowo will be starring alongside Beyond the Lights’ Gugu Mbatha-Raw in The Girl Before, an upcoming four-part limited series slated to drop on HBO Max. Word from the Indiewire Residence confirms that the show will be based on the novel of the same name by JP Delaney. It will tell the story of “Jane (Mbatha-Raw), who gets the chance to move into a beautiful, ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect (Oyelowo). There’s just one catch: occupants have to abide by his list of exacting rules. Jane starts to feel the house changing her in unexpected ways but when she makes the shocking discovery that her predecessor Emma died in the house, she’s forced to confront unnerving similarities. As the two women’s timelines interweave, Jane begins to question if her fate will be the same as the girl before.”

This will be my third project with the incomparable Gugu Mbatha-Raw,” Oyelowo captioned in a post to Instagram. “Always a pleasure. Always a joy.”

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Jonathan Majors

Jonathan Majors

Jonathan Majors attends the “The Last Black Man In San Francisco” Premiere during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2019, in Park City, Utah.
Jonathan Majors attends the “The Last Black Man In San Francisco” Premiere during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2019, in Park City, Utah.
Photo: Dia Dipasupil (Getty Images)

Lovecraft Country and Da 5 BloodsJonathan Majors is set to star in a new feature from Abi Damaris Corbin and Kwame Kwei-Armah, titled 892. Per the House of Deadline, Majors will play “a Marine war veteran who suffers from mental scars, and struggles with his transition back to civilian life.” Salman Al-Rashid and Sam Frohman of Salmira Productions and Joshuah Bearman and Mackenzie Fargo of Epic have been tapped to produce, with filming expected to begin summer of 2021.

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George C. Wolfe

George C. Wolfe

George C. Wolfe attends “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” premiere at SVA Theater on April 18, 2017, in New York City.
George C. Wolfe attends “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” premiere at SVA Theater on April 18, 2017, in New York City.
Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris (Getty Images)

George C. Wolfe, the director behind Netflix’s acclaimed film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, will be adapting Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon for Playground Entertainment and Freemantle. The House of Deadline reports that Freemantle secured rights to the book and will be bringing it to audiences in a limited series format. Wolfe is currently in talks to write, direct, and executive produce. Song of Solomon, Morrison’s third novel, follows:

“Macon ‘Milkman’ Dead III, a Black man living in Michigan. Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric – Robert Smith, an insurance salesman and member of The Seven Days, an organization that kills white people in retaliation for the racial killing of Black people – hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. The book follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, featuring an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized Black world.”

I have no doubt that all the welps in Welpington and you, my dearest and most inquisitive reader, will be eager for these projects to come to their full creative fruition.

Until next time, yours truly,

Lady Welpington

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DISCUSSION