Oprah Winfrey, Ava DuVerney To Create Original Series

OWN CEO Oprah Winfrey will team with Selma producer Ava DuVernay to create a new original drama series for the network.

DuVernay will write, direct and executively produce the series, which is inspired by the acclaimed novel Queen Sugar. Winfrey will also serve as an executive producer for the series and will appear in multiple episodes in a recurring role, marking the first time that Winfrey will act in a series for OWN.  

Production for the series, which will chronicle a spirited woman who leaves Los Angeles to claim an inheritance of an 800-acre sugar cane farm in the heart of Louisiana, is scheduled to begin later this year. 

The series will join several OWN scripted shows developed by Tyler Perry, including the hit show Haves and the Have Nots.  

“I loved this book and immediately saw it as a series for OWN,” said Winfrey in a statement.  “The story’s themes of reinventing your life, parenting alone, family connections and conflicts, and building new relationships are what I believe will connect our viewers to this show.”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.