Chanté Adams and Will Graham of ‘A League of Their Own’ break down new series at ABFF

TheGrio got a sneak peek at the first two episodes of the highly anticipated series and attended a panel with the show's star and the series creator.

“A League of Their Own” is back for a new generation. The beloved 1992 film has been adapted into a series from Prime Video and the first two episodes premiered at the American Black Film Festival last week.

TheGrio had the chance to check out the new series and listen in on a panel with series star, Chanté Adams, and creator, Will Graham.

Chanté Adams (Max), Abbi Jacobson (Carson; Co-Creator and Executive Producer) in a scene from “A League of Their Own.” (Photo courtesy of Prime Video)

Like the original film, the series follows a generation of women who dreamed of playing professional baseball in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which existed from 1943 to 1954. The series — set to debut in August — goes further, however, in representation, specifically of the lives of the Black and LGBTQ+ characters.

At the intimate panel discussion, Adams and Graham broke down exactly why this series is perfect for today, Adams’ journey to her character, Max Chapman, and the importance of storytelling that reflects our lives.

For Adams, who plays Max, the show presented an opportunity to tell a story she hasn’t seen before. “I have never seen a story about a Black woman in sports during this time,” she said. “My career has always been about telling the stories of complex and complicated Black women and that is what Max Chapman is. Once I read the script, and of course, I’m a fan of the movie like everyone else, I wanted to be a part of it.”

Max Chapman is certainly complex and layered, inspired as she is by multiple Black female baseball players at that time: Mamie Johnson, Toni Stone and Connie Morgan.

“We don’t know this, but we should: They were the first women to ever play on major league teams,” Adams stressed. “I think the fourth woman to ever do it was Kelsey Whitmore, who was one of our coaches during this process and that was this year. These women did this back in the ’50s! We should know their names; we should know their stories, and that is what I’m hoping we do with this series.”

Gbemisola Ikumelo (Clance) and Chanté Adams (Max) on the set of “A League of Their Own.” (Photo courtesy of Prime Video)

Graham, who was also the showrunner for “Mozart in the Jungle,” spoke to his intentionality in forming the team behind the series, especially one that centers on communities outside of his own, specifically the Black community. “I’m a queer man … I know what it’s like to be the only one like me in a room,” he explained. Growing up and seeing the original “A League of Their Own,” Graham was able to see himself in the story, especially feeling like an outsider. “There was something about this movie that said, ‘It’s OK to be on the field, even if you don’t feel like you’re supposed to be on the field’,” he added.

That sentiment became the “feeling” they wanted to have in the show.

“I knew from the start, because I am a white man, that this show was only gonna be able to be written and realized by a team,” he said. “And that was the way to get to the best version of the show.”

Latasha Gillespie, head of global diversity, equity, and inclusion at Amazon Studios, told the audience Graham was adamant about being the only white man in the writer’s room.

Continued Graham, “This was the right way to make the authentic version of this show … we very intentionally knew there was more than one way of looking at these characters and these stories. We tried to create a culture that was based on openness and feedback and it comes from that spirit of the show, which is about the joy of doing the thing that you love and teams.”

“A League of Their Own” premieres August 12 on Prime Video.

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