Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt Are Teaming Up to Produce an Adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates' The Water Dancer

Ta-Nehisi Coates speaks onstage during HISTORYTalks Leadership & Legacy on February 29, 2020; The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ta-Nehisi Coates speaks onstage during HISTORYTalks Leadership & Legacy on February 29, 2020; The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for HISTORY (Getty Images), Screenshot: Penguin Random House/YouTube (Getty Images)

Another Ta-Nehisi Coates adaptation is on the horizon!

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films, Brad Pitt’s Plan B (which has also produced notable works such as Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk) and MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) are joining forces to produce an adaptation of Coates’ debut novel, The Water Dancer.


In case you’re unfamiliar, THR provides more details on The Water Dancer:

Set in the pre-Civil War South, the story follows Hiram Walker, born into bondage. He possesses amazing photographic memory but has no memory of his mother. A [carriage] accident reveals to him a superpower called conduction, an ability to travel large distances and that is triggered by powerful memories of his mother. As he struggles to gain an understanding of this power, he becomes involved with the Underground Railroad and meets historical figures.

The Water Dancer was actually the first pick of Winfrey’s revival of her popular Oprah’s Book Club last November. Recently, in October, Winfrey added another one of Coates’ works (Between the World and Me) to her curated reading list titled, “Books That Help Me Through.”

Speaking of Between the World and Me, HBO will be premiering a special event for the nonfiction book starring folks such as Jharrel Jerome, Susan Kelechi Watson, Yara Shahidi, Angela Bassett, Wendell Pierce, Joe Morton, MJ Rodriguez, Mahershala Ali and Winfrey, later this month on Nov. 21. Kamilah Forbes, who directed the stage adaptation of the book, will also be producing the upcoming adaptation of The Water Dancer.

“Ta-Nehisi’s debut fiction novel has at its heart, a beautiful character in Hiram Walker, whose personal odyssey weaves the supernatural and spiritual, with the terrible reality of the forced separations endured by enslaved people and their families for centuries,” MGM’s film group chairman Michael De Luca and MGM’s film group president Pamela Abdy said in a statement. “Hiram’s story is one of devotion to those he loves, and the journey he takes to bring them together. All of us at MGM are incredibly honored to join Ta-Nehisi, Kamilah, Plan B and Harpo Films in bringing this film to the screen.”


“I’m honored to be working with Harpo, Plan B and my old friend Kamilah Forbes,” Coates added in a statement. “We all believe that MGM is the best home for this adaptation and look forward to bringing it to life.”

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.



He’s such a good writer. I remember reading his columns when he was at the Atlantic - nice to see him seeing such deserved success.