Baratunde Thurston’s Animated ‘How to Be Black’ Project in Development at ABC

Baratunde Thurston’s animated project “How to Be Black” has been put into development at ABC, hailing from 20th Television Animation and ABC Signature. Thurston, author of the memoir of the same name and podcast host of “How to Citizen with Baratunde,” will write and executive produce alongside Courtney Lilly, producer and writer known for “Arrested Development” and “The Cleveland Show,” who recently renewed his overall deal with ABC Signature. The bestselling book “How to Be Black” focuses on the community and family that raised a young Thurston in 1980s Washington, D.C.

Laurence Fishburne and Helen Sugland will also executive produce via Cinema Gypsy Productions, the production banner behind “Black-ish,” “Grown-ish” and “Mixed-ish.” The company, founded in 2000 with an eye toward developing projects that highlight cultural, racial and gender diversity issues in America, produced the hit podcast series, “Bronzeville,” as well as “Thurgood” (HBO), “Five Fingers” (Lionsgate), “Akeelah and the Bee” (Lionsgate), “Once in the Life” (Lionsgate), “Always Out Numbered” (HBO), “Hoodlum” (United Artists), “Miss Evers Boys” (HBO), “Madiba” (BET) and “Snowy Day”” (Amazon Studios). Its next endeavors are the Disney Plus animated series “Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur,” which recently completed production on a 17-episode Season 1 order, and a book-to-screen adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s “Sag Harbor” for HBO Max with Boat Rocker Studios.

Thurston is repped by Kara Baker at Avalon Management, Seth Horowitz at Schreck Rose Dapello Adams Berlin & Dunham, UTA and ID; Lilly is repped by UTA, Ben Jacobson at The Framework Collective (TFC) Management and Michael Castrillo and Jeff Frankel of Mckuin Frankel Whitehead LLP; Cinema Gypsy Productions is repped by CAA and attorneys Nina Shaw and Jeff Finkelstein at Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano; Fishburne is repped by CAA, Landmark Artists Management, and Del Shaw Moonves.

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