Tessa Thompson Launched Her Production Company and Already Has a First-Look Deal With HBO/HBO Max

TheRoot.com, By Tonya Renee Stidhum, Posted March 15th 2021

You heard of Sylvie’s Love? Well, make way for Tessa’s Production Company!

According to Deadline, the star and executive producer of the Amazon Prime Video romance film has launched her production company, Viva Maude. If that’s not already dope enough news, Thompson already landed a first-look deal with HBO and HBO Max! Under the deal, she’ll start with executive producing two book adaptations, Who Fears Death and The Secret Lives of Church Ladies.

Deadline breaks down the upcoming projects:

Who Fears Death is an adaptation of Nnedi Okorafor’s eponymous book. In the works at HBO since 2017 with Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin as one of the exec producers, Aïda Mashaka Croal, a writer on Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, has also come onboard as showrunner, writer and exec producer.

The trio join Angela Mancuso and Michael Lombardo as EPs with Okorafor as co-exec producer.

Who Fears Death tells the coming of age tale of Onyesowu in post-apocalyptic North Africa where her story makes her an outcast. She must go on a journey from self-reproach to love, but to do so she’ll have to overcome untold obstacles—defeating her hated sorcerer father and becoming the instrument of prophetic deliverance for a land of oppressed people, all the while fighting to master the terrifying powers growing inside her.

At HBO Max, Thompson is also exec producing an adaptation of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies. The short story collection, written by Deesha Philyaw, was published in September and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction. It contains nine stories about Black women, church, and sexuality.

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the raw and tender places where Black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good. Different generations of women characters grapple with who they want to be in the world, caught as they are between the church’s double standards and their own needs and passions. With their secret longings, new love, and forbidden affairs, these church ladies are as seductive as they want to be, as vulnerable as they need to be, as unfaithful and unrepentant as they care to be, and as free as they deserve to be.

Thompson will exec produce with author Philyaw, who is also writing the adaptation.

“I’m beyond thrilled to officially launch my production company, Viva Maude, which has been a real passion project and labour of love over the last few years,” Thompson said in a statement. “I’m elated to begin this partnership and to bring entertaining and impactful television projects to my friends and collaborators at HBO and HBO Max. Together we are committed to developing interesting and inclusive stories with inventive creators and to discover new voices and visionaries.”

Both of the already-announced projects under Thompson’s deal sound fascinating and I’m looking forward to what else she and her newly-launched company has in store!

Tonja Renée Stidhum

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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