MGM+, a premium linear channel and streaming service, today announced a greenlight for the docuseries Hollywood Black, from Justin Simien’s Culture Machine, Forest Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi’s Significant Productions, and the Academy Award-winning creative production company RadicalMedia. Based on the book by historian Donald Bogle, this four-part docuseries—directed by Justin Simien (Dear White People), whose upcoming Disney film Haunted Mansion will be released this summer—tells the epic story of the actors, writers, directors, and producers who fought for their place on the page, behind the camera, on the screen, and in the credits. It is a definitive chronicle of a century of the Black experience in Hollywood, and a powerful reexamination of a quintessentially American story—in brilliant color.
“We are thrilled to work with Justin Simien, Jeffrey Schwarz, RadicalMedia, and to expand our prolific creative partnership with Forest and Nina,” said Michael Wright, head of MGM+. “Hollywood Black, like other recent MGM+ docuseries, is an entertaining and thoughtful look at a vital part of American culture, examining the evolution of Black cinema and the talented artists who built it. It is a timely and relevant look at the Black experience in Hollywood."
“Hollywood, like many American industries, was built on Black culture and Black talent, even though it excluded Black people from many of its origin stories,” said Justin Simien. “This series seeks to illuminate present-day controversies, from #OscarSoWhite to the almost regular ‘blackface reveal’ of prominent white celebrities, told through the lens of Black individuals throughout Hollywood history. It's the most important story I’ve been able to tell to date, on such a large scale, and I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity to tell it with this team.”
“We love collaborating with visionary filmmakers, so it’s an honor to team up with Justin Simien/Culture Machine and Radical Media on Hollywood Black, especially alongside such immense support from Michael Wright and MGM+,” said Forest Whitaker. “Through this meaningful exploration of Black history in cinema, we’re excited to celebrate its future.”
Culture Machine’s Justin Simien (Dear White People, Bad Hair) and Kyle Laursen, Significant Productions’ Forest Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi (Godfather of Harlem), and RadicalMedia’s Dave Sirulnick, Stacey Reiss, Jon Kamen (Summer of Soul) and Jeffrey Swartz will all serve as executive producers. Amy Goodman Kass is showrunner, and Simien is set to direct. The docuseries will be internationally distributed by MGM.
Hollywood Black is the latest addition to MGM+’s library of acclaimed docuseries, including Amityville: An Origin Story, Murf the Surf, Emmy-nominated Laurel Canyon, Helter Skelter, Slow Burn, My Life as a Rolling Stone, NFL Icons, and Blumhouse’s Compendium of Horror.
About Culture Machine
Culture Machine is a production company dedicated to inclusive content from marginalized voices poised to disrupt, activate and electrify popular culture. Culture Machine produced all four seasons of Justin Simien's GLAAD- and Gotham Independent Film award-nominated series Dear White People on Netflix, adapted from Simien's own Sundance Jury Prize-winning feature film. Culture Machine is currently producing the Flashdance series reboot for Paramount+ with Simien set to direct a contemporary take on the classic Paramount Pictures film. Culture Machine is also producing the series adaptation of Image Comics’ best-selling comic Geiger created by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank for Paramount. Their slate also includes Plan A from writer Steven J. Kung for Starz and with Lionsgate Television.
About Significant Productions
Co-founded by producing partners Forest Whitaker & Nina Yang Bongiovi, Significant Productions is committed to creating opportunities for underrepresented narratives and storytellers by championing films and television shows starring people of color, alongside diversified representation behind the camera.
Significant Productions has produced critically acclaimed, culturally significant motion pictures by auteur filmmakers, including Fruitvale Station (2013) by Ryan Coogler, Dope (2015) by Rick Famuyiwa, Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015) by Chloe Zhao, Roxanne Roxanne (2018) by Michael Larnell, Sorry to Bother You (2018) by Boots Riley, and A Kid from Coney Island (2020) by Coodie & Chike. Passing, Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut (based on Nella Larsen’s novel of the same name) was released globally on Netflix in the fall of 2021, yielding four BAFTA nominations in 2022. Earlier this year, Significant launched Fancy Dance by Erica Tremblay and To Live and Die by Qasim Basir at Sundance, which both debuted to rave reviews. Notably, all eight narrative features produced by Nina & Forest premiered at Sundance Film Festival, and went on to garner over 90 wins and over 300 nominations throughout awards circuits.
Forest and Nina also serve as executive producers on the premium TV series “Godfather of Harlem,” which just aired its third season on MGM+, and the pair continues to support inclusive storytelling within the television realm through its first-look deal at Amazon Studios.