HBO Max developing period drama about launch of Essence Magazine

    News of the project follows the announcement that the publication has furloughed staff 'due to revenue losses.'

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    The origin of Essence magazine is receiving the small screen treatment from HBO Max.

    The network is developing a period drama series that will chronicle the launch of the American publication dedicated to Black women. Essence co-founder Edward Lewis will serve as executive producer alongside Korin Huggins and Monique Nash through their Kronicle Media banner, per Shadow and Act.

    Here’s the description of the series:

    Set amid the changing social and cultural landscape of post-civil rights era America, the series is inspired by the relationships between the men who founded the iconic women’s magazine, Essence, and the women who were the creative force behind it, as they create something mainstream America has never seen before. The show will tell the story of a Black startup before “startup” was a term and explores universal themes of love, loss and the pursuit of the American Dream.

    Read More: Essence Magazine to furlough staff amid pandemic

    John Sacchi and Matt Groesch of 5 More Minutes Productions are also executive producing, according to the report.

    Michelle Obama Essence magazine Dec 2018/Jan 2019 cover thegrio.com
    Essence magazine Dec 2018/Jan 2019 cover

    News of the project follows the announcement that Essence Magazine has furloughed staff “due to revenue losses” amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, theGRIO previously reported.

    In a press release, Essence noted that the negative impact of COVID-19 led to the cancellation of major events such as the popular Essence Music Festival. 

    “Six months into an unprecedented and continuing global pandemic, COVID-19 has had a broader and longer-lasting impact than anyone expected – and Essence Communications, Inc. (“ECI”) has not been immune to it,” the magazine said in an announcement

    “Nonetheless, our commitment to successfully guiding this iconic brand through these immediate challenges and forward is unwavering. Our team and the community we serve are too important. The culture we reflect and create is too important,” the publication continued. “The platforms we’ve built for the celebration, inspiration and empowerment of Black women and communities are too important. This is why we are making the business decisions we are making today.” 

    The publication intends to “pay everyone impacted throughout this week and will cover their medical benefits premiums throughout the furlough,” which is expected to last no longer than six months.

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