Lena Waithe is following up her historic Emmy win with an ambitious new venture: After winning a trophy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series, Waithe is tackling a drama series set in her sweet home, Chicago.
“The Chi,” created and produced by Waithe, “explores the humanity behind the headlines sensationalizing the South Side of Chicago.” The first season was shot entirely in the Windy City and will track the lives of children growing up in the city, teens looking for love, and adults dealing with very adult issues, including police corruption, excessive force, and gang violence.
As indicated in the first full trailer below, the series isn’t all doom and gloom. Despite the prominent stories coming out of Chicago, like the much-publicized homicide level, characters inhabited by the likes of Jason Mitchell, Sonja Sohn, and Alex Hibbert will look to put a human face on the city and show the good along with the bad.
Given the crime statistics and national focus on coastal cities, an aptly complex portrait of Chicago is needed now more than ever, and Waithe aims to deliver just that on Showtime.
Here’s the official synopsis provided by the network:
“The Chi” is a timely coming-of-age story centering on a group of residents who become linked by coincidence but bonded by the need for connection and redemption. The ensemble cast includes Jason Mitchell (“Straight Outta Compton”), Jacob Latimore (“Sleight”), Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine (“Queen of Katwe), Alex Hibbert (“Moonlight”), Yolonda Ross (“Treme,” “The Get Down”), Armando Riesco (“Bull”) and Tiffany Boone (“The Following”).
Kevin (Hibbert) is the pre-teen who must step past shattered illusions and embrace the normal rites of childhood, while Brandon (Mitchell) the dreamer makes his own nearly impossible leap of faith to succeed in life and love with girlfriend Jerrika (Boone). Emmett (Latimore) is the carefree teen thrust into complex responsibility with guidance from his mother Jada (Ross), and Ronnie (Mwine) is the drifter whose struggle to love and be loved calls into question his every pursuit. Sonja Sohn (“The Wire”), Jahking Guillory (“Kicks”), and Steven Williams (“The Leftovers”) recur.
In addition to Waithe, Common and Reid, Aaron Kaplan (Santa Clarita Diet, Divorce) serves as executive producer along with Rick Famuyiwa (Dope), who also directed the premiere episode, and Derek Dudley and Shelby Stone of Freedom Road Productions. The series is produced by Fox 21 Television Studios.
“The Chi” premieres Sunday, January 7 at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime. Watch the full trailer and check out the poster below.
The official poster, courtesy of Showtime: