Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, fresh off his Academy Award win for this year’s Best Picture winner Moonlight, has signed a deal with the Oprah Winfrey Network to create, write, and executive produce a new hour-long television drama.
The yet-to-be-titled coming of age drama draws on events from McCraney’s own life. The playwright won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Moonlight, which was based on his semi-autobiographical play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue. The film also won Best Picture.
Set in South Florida at the end of the Obama presidency, the TV series centers on a 14-year-old prodigy from the projects—still haunted by the death of his best friend—who is faced with the decision of leaving behind his hardworking mother and the only life he’s known for the chance at a higher education.
“I wanted to explore the pivotal steps towards adulthood and identity, the ones we take when we think or feel we have no other choice,” said McCraney said in a statement announcing the deal.
“When Tarell shared his powerful story with us there wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” Winfrey said. “I knew this was something special that our viewers will without a doubt connect to and feel compelled to explore with us. I am honored to be working with Tarell and the rest of the producers on this project.”
McCraney’s critically-acclaimed stage works include The Brother/Sister Trilogy, Choir Boy, Wig Out!, American Trade, and Head of Passes. McCraney was recently appointed the Chair of Playwrighting at the Yale School of Drama. He is also the recipient of a 2013 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and is a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.