Exclusive: Oprah Winfrey, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Lionsgate and The New York Times to Adapt The 1619 Project Into Film, TV Programming and More

Oprah Winfrey ; Nikole Hannah-Jones
Oprah Winfrey ; Nikole Hannah-Jones
Photo: Ruven Afanador/Harpo Inc., James Estrin/The New York Times

On August 14, 2019, on the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans’ arrival into the English colonies that would become the United States, The New York Times launched The 1619 Project.

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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and 2019 Root 100 honoree Nikole Hannah-Jones is the creator and architect of the historic initiative and incorporating contributions by Black authors, essayist, poets, playwrights and scholars. From the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History & Culture to the Senate, The 1619 Project’s impact was immeasurable. It is everywhere, including becoming an adapted book series and the project has been incorporated into school curriculums.

Speaking of everywhere...

The Root is proud to exclusively announce that The 1619 Project will be adapted into a portfolio of films, television programming and other content across studio platforms.

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More deets from the official press release sent to The Root:

Pulitzer Prize®-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times (NYSE: NYT) have chosen global content leader Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF.A, LGF.B) to be the home for a wide-ranging partnership to develop Ms. Hannah-Jones’ landmark issue of The New York Times Magazine, The 1619 Project, and hit New York Times podcast, 1619, into an expansive portfolio of feature films, television series and other content for a global audience.

As part of the ground-breaking venture, Lionsgate has partnered with media titan Oprah Winfrey as a producer who will provide stewardship and guidance to the development and production of the 1619 Project.

Lionsgate, The Times and Ms. Winfrey will join forces with Ms. Hannah-Jones, a 2020 Pulitzer Prize® winner, staff writer at The New York Times Magazine, and one of the nation’s foremost investigative journalists, who will serve as the creative leader and producer in developing feature films, television series, documentaries, unscripted programming and other forms of entertainment enlisting world-class Black creative voices to help adapt her celebrated series chronicling the ways that the original sin of slavery in America still permeates all aspects of our society today. Her colleague at The Times Magazine, Caitlin Roper, an editor of The 1619 Project and head of scripted entertainment at The Times, will also produce.

“We took very seriously our duty to find TV and film partners that would respect and honor the work and mission of The 1619 Project, that understood our vision and deep moral obligation to doing justice to these stories,” Hannah-Jones said in a statement to The Root. “Through every step of the process, Lionsgate and its leadership have shown themselves to be that partner and it is a dream to be able to produce this work with Ms. Oprah Winfrey, a trailblazer and beacon to so many Black journalists. I am excited for this opportunity to extend the breadth and reach of The 1619 Project and to introduce these stories of Black resistance and resilience to even more American households.”

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“From the first moment I read The 1619 Project and immersed myself in Nikole Hannah-Jones’s transformative work, I was moved, deepened and strengthened by her empowering historical analysis,” Winfrey added. “I am honored to be a part of Nikole’s vision to bring this project to a global audience.”

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“For many Americans, The 1619 Project was a great awakening and a true history that you probably never learned in school,” Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer noted. “For others, the project was a fresh analysis of the historical record by one of the world’s leading media authorities. We’re proud to partner with The New York Times, Nikole Hannah-Jones and Oprah Winfrey, a creative talent with unparalleled stature, to amplify Nikole’s voice and reach across our worldwide platform to marshal all of our top creative relationships to translate her vision into a canon of storytelling for a global audience.”

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“Since the publication of The 1619 Project last year, we have been searching for the right partners to expand the reach of its message into film and television while preserving the authenticity of its voice,” New York Times Assistant Managing Editor, Sam Dolnick said. “We believe that Lionsgate and Oprah Winfrey are the perfect combination of partners who understand the editorial integrity of The Times and the gravity of The 1619 Project’s message, and have the reach, resources, compassion, and talent relationships to join with us and with Nikole in producing films, television, and other programming for a global audience that do justice to the project.”

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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