‘Moonlight’ director to write, direct Amazon series based on Underground Railroad

jenkins amazon moonlight barry
(ABC/Alexander Scott)

Moonlight received the top prize at this year’s Academy Awards, taking home the Oscar for Best Picture. And now, Barry Jenkins, director of the touching film, will be moving over to the streaming world to write and direct a drama series about the Underground Railroad, reports Variety.

The series explores the historical period by following the story of a young slave named Cora who escapes her plantation. She seeks out the Underground Railroad in a desperate quest for her freedom. But rather than coming across a metaphorical railroad, she discovers a real one. The show will be based on the best-selling book The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

“Colson’s writing has always defied convention,” comments Jenkins. “It’s groundbreaking work that pays respect to our nation’s history while using the film to explore it in a thoughtful and original way.”

Jenkins struck gold with Moonlight, a dramatic film that chronicles a young African American boy’s struggles with homosexuality. He’s also known for the film Medicine for Melancholy, but aside from those two projects, his writing and directing resume is fairly slim. In the TV world specifically, he has directed one episode of the Netflix series Dead White People, and directed one episode of Futurestates on PBS, among earning a few other writing and directing credits, including a number of shorts.

That said, along with Jenkins’ own Pastel Productions behind him, executive producing the series will also be Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment, which also produced Moonlight.

Moonlight’s win at the 2017 Academy Awards was an historic one, when the award was wrongfully given to La La Land until the mistake was discovered, and the award was then awkwardly handed off on stage. In addition to winning the night’s big award, Moonlight also won for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Mahershala Ali won in the Best Supporting Actor category.

Jenkins lauded Amazon as a distribution partner for this new project, praising the streaming service’s “reference for storytelling and freeness of form” as being “wholly in line with our vision.”

Amazon, it’s worth noting, enjoyed its own share of praise at this year’s Academy Awards, taking home a trio of awards — one for its foreign language film The Salesman, and two for its original film Manchester by the Sea, including one for the Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actor for Casey Affleck.