HBO Is Adapting Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me and It Will Debut This Fall

Ta-Nehisi Coates attends Gordon Parks Foundation: 2018 Awards Dinner & Auction on May 22, 2018, in New York City.
Ta-Nehisi Coates attends Gordon Parks Foundation: 2018 Awards Dinner & Auction on May 22, 2018, in New York City.
Photo: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Gordon Parks Foundation (Getty Images)

The ever-illustrious Ta-Nehisi Coates is taking his talents to HBO!

The premium network has announced it will be adapting the critically acclaimed stage show Between the World and Me, which is based on Coates’ #1 New York Times bestselling book of the same name. On Thursday, Casey Bloys, President, HBO Programming announced the adaptation will air as an HBO Special event.


Structured as a letter to his teenage son in 2015, Between the World and Me is a nonfiction work that is “a compelling mix of history, analysis and memoir.” The acclaimed book won the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction and was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction.

More deets on the upcoming special from the HBO press release sent to The Root:

Originally adapted and staged by the Apollo Theater in 2018, the special will combine elements of that production, including powerful readings from Coates’ book, and will once again be directed by award-winning director and Apollo Theater Executive Producer Kamilah Forbes. Ta-Nehisi Coates and Susan Kelechi Watson are also executive producers. Oscar-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams is producing. It will also incorporate documentary footage from the actors’ home life, archival footage, and animation. The special will be produced under COVID-19 guidelines.

In addition to producing this special, HBO will be making a charitable donation to Howard University and the Apollo Theater.

“As people across our country continue to speak out about violent, systemic racism and the urgent need for tangible change, Ta-Nehisi’s words resonate as strongly today as they did five years ago,” Forbes said in a statement. “I’m excited to collaborate again with both Ta-Nehisi and HBO on this important special event, ensuring that the powerful voices in this work and the cry for justice from the Black community continue to reach a broader audience.”

“I’ve been working with Kamilah for almost as long as I’ve been a writer,” Coates said. “I can think of no one better to put Between the World and Me on screen and no better home for it than HBO.”

“Through BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME, we intend to create a space of communion where Black people can metabolize our grief, celebrate our joys, and continue to amplify the current discourse regarding race and culture in our country and around the world,” Watson added. “Ta-Nehisi’s words lend themselves to an experience that is shared by so many of us. I’m thrilled to work with HBO and these brilliant minds on a special that is both timely and urgent.”

The frequent Root 100 honoree also had a great previous year with his latest book, The Water Dancer, which was selected as part of Oprah’s Book Club series on Apple TV+ this past winter.


Between the World and Me will debut on HBO stream on HBO Max this fall.

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.



Good luck with that, but it’s pretty unlikely that any teevee show even the best producer can come up with will make your hairs stand on end the way reading Coates’s prose does.