FX’s Kindred Adaptation Has Found its Director and Star

Earlier this year, FX announced that it was adapting one of Octavia Butler’s best-known works: Kindred. It ordered a pilot for the project, which will be written by playwright and MacArthur Fellow Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.

The project appears to be moving along: According to TheWrap, FX has hired Janicza Bravo (Zola) to helm the pilot. The series has also tapped Mallori Johnson to star as the show’s lead character.

Kindred was first published in 1979, and it follows a woman named Dana Franklin (to be played by Johnson) as she unexpectedly finds herself jumping back and forth in time between the 1970s and a Maryland plantation in the 1800s. Going back in time, she meets some of her ancestors, including a boy named Rufus, who seems to be her anchor point in the past.

Speaking with TheWrap, Bravo explained that she first read Kindred while in college, and “I hadn’t ever seen myself in a world like that. And certainly not at its center.”

What might seem like only a portrait of an invisible woman is also a potent embrace of our relationship to history and how it can bring us closer to our future. After what felt like losing over a year of the life I had come to know so well, an opportunity to direct an adaptation of this specific text was a win. On top of that getting to partner with Branden is something I’d been wanting for quite some time.

Jacobs-Jenkins will serve as writer and producer, with Darren Aronofsky, Joe Weisberg, and Joel Fields (The Americans) serving as executive producers. Johnson is a new actress who recently graduated from Julliard, and this appears to be her first role for television.

The project isn’t guaranteed to go onto a series—typically, a pilot episode is shown to a network and then picked up if it meets with said network’s expectations and strategy. This isn’t the only project from Butler that’s in the works either: Nnedi Okorafor is currently working on an adaptation of Wild Seed, and Amazon Studios is developing adaptation of Dawn.


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