Entertainment15 January 2021
Award-winning creators Roger Ross Williams, Mara Brock Akil and Chris Nee attached to the projects
Netflix is partnering with acclaimed author and antiracist scholar Dr. Ibram X. Kendi to produce three new projects based on his bestselling and award-winning books: “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You,” and “Antiracist Baby.” Netflix is developing the books across several different formats and genres, offering a timely and thoughtful examination of racism for audiences of all ages.
Stamped from the Beginning, a hybrid documentary/scripted feature based on Dr. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas,” will be directed and produced by Oscar and Emmy Award-winner Roger Ross Williams (The Innocence Files, The Apollo, Life, Animated, Music by Prudence) through his production company One Story Up and executive produced by NAACP Image Award-winner Mara Brock Akil (Girlfriends, The Game, Being Mary Jane). Dr. Kendi will also serve as executive producer.
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You, a companion documentary to Stamped from the Beginning aimed at younger viewers, is based on the #1 New York Times bestseller for young adults of the same name by Dr. Kendi and Jason Reynolds, and will be directed and produced by Roger Ross Williams and executive produced by Dr. Kendi.
Antiracist Baby, a series of animated vignettes set to music for preschoolers based on Dr. Kendi’s bestselling children’s book of the same name, will be executive produced by Peabody, Humanitas, NAACP and Emmy Award-winner Chris Nee (Doc McStuffins, Vampirina) and Dr. Kendi.
Quote from Dr. Ibram X. Kendi: “I’m elated these projects landed at Netflix. What a wonderful partner. I’m elated to work with Roger Ross Williams, Mara Brock Akil, and Chris Nee. They are such ambitious, innovative, and passionate creators who are committed to racial justice. But I’m really elated for the viewers, for the adults and children who will be captivated, informed, and transformed by these projects.”
Quote from Roger Ross Williams: "Dr. Ibram X. Kendi's ‘Stamped from the Beginning’ and ‘Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You’ are powerful and essential pieces of literature that clearly outline how deeply rooted racist ideas are in the United States. I hope these films crystallize Dr. Kendi’s message that ‘the only thing wrong with Black people is that they think something is wrong with Black people’ and encourage everyone to fight for a more equitable society. I am thrilled to be partnering with Netflix to bring Dr. Kendi's incredible work and crucial insights to a broader audience.”
Quote from Chris Nee: “I feel deeply honored to have a chance to help deepen the impact of Dr. Kendi’s work. We are living in tumultuous times and it is incumbent on all of us to use our platforms to make the world a better place. Antiracist Baby aligns perfectly with the values of my company, Laughing Wild and Netflix as a whole, and we are excited to be a vehicle through which it can continue to influence the world for the better.”
Stamped from the Beginning: Some Americans cling desperately to the myth that we are living in a post-racial society, that the election of the first Black president spelled the doom of racism. In fact, racist thought is alive and well in America - more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Dr. Ibram X. Kendi argues in “Stamped from the Beginning,” if we have any hope of grappling with this stark reality, we must first understand how racist ideas were developed, disseminated, and enshrined in American society.
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You: The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. A companion documentary to Stamped from the Beginning, this film reveals the history of racist ideas in America and inspires hope for an antiracist future. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You aims to take young viewers on a race journey, exploring how we got here, why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers.
Antiracist Baby: Songs from our childhood leave an indelible mark on our memory. Antiracist Baby will leverage the power of earwormy songs to empower kids and their caregivers with simple tools to uproot racism in ourselves and society. This series of animated short music videos is based on the 9 ‘steps’ to being antiracist laid out in Dr. Kendi’s “Antiracist Baby,” a bestselling new board book also featured in Netflix's live-action series Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices.
About Dr. Ibram X. Kendi:
Ibram X. Kendi is one of America’s foremost historians and leading antiracist scholars. He is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, and the founding director of the BU Center for Antiracist Research. He is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and a CBS News racial justice contributor. Dr. Kendi is also the 2020-2021 Frances B. Cashin Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.
Dr. Kendi is the author of many books including “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, making him the youngest ever winner of that award. “Stamped from the Beginning” was a New York Times bestseller, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and nominated for a NAACP Image Award.
Dr. Kendi also authored three #1 New York Times bestsellers, “How to Be an Antiracist;” “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You,” co-authored with Jason Reynolds; and “Antiracist Baby,” illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky. “How to Be an Antiracist” is an international bestseller and was hailed in the New York Times as “the most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind.” Both “Stamped” and “Antiracist Baby” won 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards, the only major book awards decided by readers. “Stamped” was also a finalist for the Kirkus Book Prize in the young reader’s category.
Dr. Kendi’s next book is “Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019,” co-edited with Keisha Blain.
In 2020, TIME magazine named Dr. Kendi one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
About Roger Ross Williams:
Roger Ross Williams is an Oscar and Emmy award-winning director, producer and writer and the first African American director to win an Academy Award, with his film Music By Prudence.
“Beautiful,” “Uplifting,” “Extraordinary,” “Triumphant,” “Rich with insight,” “Searing,” “Remarkable,” and “Inspirational” are accolades Williams’ films have received from the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Forbes, Stephen Colbert, and Entertainment Weekly.
Williams has directed a number of acclaimed films including Life, Animated, which won the Sundance Film Festival Directing Award, was nominated for an Academy Award and won three Emmys in 2018, including the award for Best Documentary. He also directed God Loves Uganda, which was shortlisted for an Academy Award and American Jail, which examined the U.S. prison system and premiered on CNN. Williams’ Traveling While Black, a VR documentary made for Facebook’s Oculus, premiered at Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy and won a Webby Award. His film The Apollo, a documentary about Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater, was the opening night film of the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival and won the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Documentary. He recently directed three hours of The Innocence Files, which premiered on Netflix in their top ten.
His production company, One Story Up, creates documentary films, series, specials, animation and VR. It specializes in providing opportunities for filmmakers from underrepresented communities. One Story Up has produced a variety of projects including two limited documentary series for Netflix and a screen adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ bestseller, Between the World and Me for HBO. They are currently producing numerous projects and series including an untitled Netflix feature documentary about civil rights lawyer Ben Crump; a short film series with Topic and First Look Media; and a feature documentary for A&E titled Master of Light.
Williams is currently in pre-production on his first narrative feature, Cassandro, based on the real life story of an openly gay, cross-dressing, Lucha Libre wrestler. The film will star Gael Garcia Bernal, and is produced by Bernal and Diego Luna’s production company La Corriente Del Golfo.
Since 2016, Williams has been on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences representing the Documentary Branch and is also Chair of the Documentary Diversity Committee. Williams serves on the advisory board of the Full Frame Film Festival, and the boards of Docubox Kenya, None On Record, and the Zeitz Museum Of Contemporary Art Africa. He resides in New York and Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
About Mara Brock Akil: Mara Brock Akil has written and produced nearly 400 episodes of television, truly leaving her mark on Hollywood. Groundbreaking in many ways, Akil created the seminal television series Girlfriends in 2000. The series was a witty, intelligent and honest exploration of the many facets of black womanhood. During its 8-season stint on air, it was one of the highest-rated scripted shows among African-Americans ages 18-34. Additionally, Akil developed the spin-off series The Game, which premiered in 2006 as a quick fan-favorite as well. In fact, loyal fans of The Game rallied behind the series upon its cancellation in what was then an unprecedented way, taking to social media to launch a campaign to save the series. Taking notice, BET stepped up and struck a deal to renew the series and develop additional episodes. When season 4 of The Game premiered on BET in 2011, the series exceeded all expectations drawing in 7.7 million viewers, becoming the most-watched scripted-series premiere ever on ad-supported cable. The series continued on for a total of 9 seasons, earning praise throughout its run for its verisimilitude and, during the reality television boom, was one of the few shows on television that felt truly specific to its moment. In 2013, Akil developed her first one-hour drama, BET’s Being Mary Jane, further cementing her ability to tell powerful and engaging stories that speak to women through honest, true-to-life reflections. Unquestionably, Akil’s work put BET scripted series on the map for the first time ever with back-to-back hits gleaning such large audiences. Akil has continued that legacy and passion through her most recent projects, including The CW’s Black Lightning and OWN’s _Love Is__. Beyond her work as a writer and producer, her peers have consistently recognized Akil as a leader in the industry. In 2019, Akil was honored with the prestigious Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award by NATPE for exhibiting extraordinary passion, leadership, independence and vision through her work, as well as for her contributions to the medium of television as a content creator. In 2017, she was inducted into Northwestern’s Medill Hall of Achievement and received the distinguished Northwestern Alumni Medal, the highest honor bestowed unto alumni by the Northwestern Alumni Association. She garnered both of these awards from her alma mater within the same year. Some of her prior accolades include _Essence magazine’s Visionary Award during their annual Black Women in Hollywood luncheon, being named to Variety and The Hollywood Reporter’s Showrunner Power Lists, as well as The Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment Power100, multiple times.
About Chris Nee:
Peabody, Humanitas, NAACP and Emmy Award-winner Chris Nee is the creator and executive producer of the upcoming Netflix animated preschool series Ada Twist, Scientist, Ridley Jones, Spirit Rangers and Dino Daycare. She is also the creator and executive producer of the acclaimed series, Doc McStuffins, an imaginative animated series about a six-year-old girl who is a doctor to her stuffed animals and toys. She also developed for television and executive produced the hit animated series Vampirina, about a young vampire girl who faces being the new kid in town when her family moves from Transylvania to Pennsylvania.
An accomplished childrenʼs television writer, Nee has also managed to juggle a successful career as a documentary and reality TV producer. While on location in Alaska for Discovery Channelʼs cult hit documentary series Deadliest Catch, Nee was simultaneously writing the first Wonder Pets Christmas Special for Nickelodeon.
Nee received Emmy Award nominations for her work on both series. Nee has received 16 Emmy Award nominations for writing and won an Emmy in 2002 for her work on the series Little Bill. Doc McStuffins won the Peabody Award in 2014. Her additional writing credits include the Disney Channel series American Dragon: Jake Long, Playhouse Disney series Johnny and the Sprites and Higglytown Heroes, and Nickelodeon series The Backyardigans, Olivia and Unfabulous. She also wrote for cult hit Angela Anaconda. Her producing credits include Morgan Spurlockʼs series, 30 Days and supervising producer for The Real Roseanne Show.
Nee has signed a multiyear overall deal with Netflix to write and produce across live action, animation, kids, teens and adults. Neeʼs production company, Laughing Wild, is focused on producing up and coming talent with diverse points of view.
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