It’s not something I typically say, but, duuuuuude… it’s a gold rush! A black gold rush, specifically, as TV networks continue to mine the fertile land where black actors have been seemingly buried for years, with one casting announcement after another of black actors in lead roles, during this pilot season. Of course each of these pilots has yet to be ordered to series, so, when the fall TV season begins, many of them likely won’t be in any TV network’s lineup, especially since, on average, going back to the 2009 season, about 100 pilots are produced each year, with roughly 35% of them actually getting picked up.
But, thus far, there are far more pilot castings of black actors in lead roles this year, than there were at the time last year (hard data coming soon).
Here’s the latest… fresh off a critically-acclaimed starring performance in BET’s “The Book of Negroes” miniseries, Aunjanue Ellis has been cast as the female lead in ABC’s drama-thriller “Quantico,” which hails from Josh Safran, The Hollywood Reporter says.
“Quantico” centers on a group of young FBI recruits, who battle their way through training at the Quantico base in Virginia. As the show intercuts between their hidden pasts and their present training, it also flashes forward to the near future, where one of the recruits will turn out to be a sleeper terrorist responsible for the most devastating terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.
Ellis will star in the series, playing a character named Miranda, who is described as “an extremely professional and tough woman who is the director of Quantico and oversees the training of a new group of recruits. Honest to the point of being harsh at times, Miranda never allows her emotions to cloud her judgment, and is able to make difficult decisions — despite dealing with pressures at home. The character has fought hard to become the highest-ranking woman in the FBI, but there’s only so far she’s been able to go and that fuels her to push even further.”
Ellis joins a cast that also includes Tate Ellington and Graham Rogers.
Safran will write the script and executive produce the drama, alongside Mark Gordon.
Marc Munden will direct the pilot.
She joins a long list of black actors who’ve been cast, and as LEADS (which is significant), in pilots this season. But, as I noted above, let’s see how many of them actually get ordered to series.
As I said, I’ll be publishing a full list of all the pilot castings soon, which will give us a much clearer picture..