Black Creativity Abounds in These Latest Project Announcements From Issa Rae, Kenya Barris, John Legend and Sanaa Lathan

The multi-hyphenate creatives are truly living up to the creed "Booked and Busy."

(L-R) Issa Rae, Kenya Barris, John Legend, Sanaa Lathan.
(L-R) Issa Rae, Kenya Barris, John Legend, Sanaa Lathan.
Photo: Jamie McCarthy for Michael Kors/Jon Kopaloff/Arturo Holmes for Tribeca Festival/ Emma McIntyre (Getty Images)

Look, whoever said I have the same 24 hours as Issa Rae lied.

I don’t. And chances are, you probably don’t either. You wanna know how I know? It’s because despite the fifty-leven projects Rae always seems to have going on at any given moment, she always finds the time and energy to add one more.


I get tired if I have to go to Publix, Target, and Walmart in one day. It’s tew (read: too) much.

Apparently though, Rae’s more than equipped to handle it all, Variety reports that the Insecure star will be partnering up with The Daily Social Distancing Show with Trevor Noah correspondent and comedian Jaboukie Young-White to develop Vanessa R. Panfil’s 2017 book, The Gang’s All Queer: The Lives of Gay Gang Members at HBO. The half-hour series will tell the tale of “a closeted twenty-something in Chicago, grieving a gang-related death, [who] ditches college to find reckless closure.” Rae will serve in the executive producer role while Young-White tapped to write.

But if you thought Issa Rae was the only one in Hollywood with a million and one projects coming down the pipeline, think again!

Kenya Barris, mastermind behind the seemingly never-ending -Ish franchise (or as The Root’s staff Entertainment Writer Tonja Renée Stidhum calls it, the “Kenya Barris Cinematic Universe”), will also be bringing the funny in a new feature at Netflix. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Barris and actor Jonah Hill are set to explore the themes present in the 1967 classic film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, but with a modern twist. While plot details are being kept to a minimum, what we do know is that Barris and Hill have already co-written the script with filming expected to begin this fall in Los Angeles. The untitled project will also make for Barris’ film directorial debut, as well.

Now this is usually the part where I make some sort of tie-in to the next project, but before I do that I’d just like to point out that a modern adaptation to Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner has already been done. In fact, it’s been done myriad times, in a variety of different ways. The one that immediately comes to mind? The loose remake starring Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher in 2005, titled Guess Who. I didn’t really like that one too much, but I love Bernie so I’d like to just let him have that.

And apparently so would a lot of other folks online:


Speaking of the OG King of Comedy, THR also reports that the life and career of Bernie Mac will be headed to a screen near us soon. In tandem with the Bernie Mac estate, John Legend’s production banner Get Lifted will oversee the “feature film biopic” of the late comedian. The news was announced on Thursday by Legend’s producing partner Mike Jackson during a panel discussion at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. America, you better get ready!


But before you do that though, America, I’ve gotta tell you about Sanaa Lathan’s upcoming directorial debut! According to Deadline, the actress is set to adapt Angie Thomas’ New York Times’ best-seller, On The Come Up. The film comes from Paramount Players with This Is Us writer and director Kay Oyegun penning the script.

On the Come Up’s synopsis, per Deadline:

On the Come Up centers on 16-year-old Bri, who wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral…for all the wrong reasons. Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.