Days after “Greenleaf” wrapped its five-season run on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network gave a formal straight-to-series order to the drama series “Delilah” from the same creative team, made up of “Greenleaf” creator Craig Wright, Warner Bros. Television, and Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films. On track for a March premiere and counting playwrights and screenwriters Craig Wright and Charles Randolph-Wright, as well as Oprah Winfrey, among its other executive producers, “Delilah” stars Maahra Hill as a lawyer who left a demanding white-shoe law firm a decade ago and hung up her own shingle, so she could make raising her kids her No. 1 priority. Now she takes on cases the big firms ignore and finds herself, more often than not, going head-to-head with the powerful and privileged as she fights for the disenfranchised.
During OWN’s CTAM Winter 2021 Press Tour on Wednesday, the series’ producers and stars promised a fresh, compelling drama that is authentic to the real-life experiences of Black women like Delilah.
“After ‘Greenleaf’ wrapped up, I was really excited to work on a broader canvas, outside the church, and look for issues that were a little more secular, that affected more Americans, especially the viewers of OWN who had really followed us through the ‘Greenleaf’ journey,” Craig Wright said. “So Oprah and I decided that the best way to do that would be to create a legal drama, since people love legal dramas, but to make it about a quintessentially OWN viewer-centered heroine. And so we did a lot of thinking and a lot of research to identify what the OWN viewers wanted to see, and what the ‘Greenleaf’ viewers wanted to see in a story that reflected back at them. And so we wanted to make something that could ask more questions about where society is heading, and how Black women and Black Americans are going to continue to be a major influence on the unfolding of American history and world history.”
In the first episode, titled “Everything to Everybody,” which was made available to the press, Delilah finds herself between a rock and a hard place when an old acquaintance asks her to take on a controversial whistleblower case — one that will pit Delilah against her best friend and fellow lawyer Tamara (Jill Marie Jones) for the first time in their careers. Tamara has always represented the wealthy and powerful, but this case is different: Delilah’s most cherished friendship is on the line, and there are lives at stake.
Still, Delilah does what she always does: She seeks justice for those who need it most. Meanwhile, ambitious young attorney Demetria Barnes (Susan Heyward) angles for an associate position with Delilah, but her long-time assistant Harper (Ozioma Akagha) is skeptical. And at home, Delilah tries to be there for her two kids, Maia (Kelly Jacobs) and Marcus (Braelyn Rankins), while also providing a safe haven for her young nephew Dion (Khalil Johnson).
“Delilah” is Hill’s first series regular and lead role. She previously appeared in episodes of “Black-ish,” and “How to Get Away With Murder.”
“I don’t know that there are words to describe what it means to me to be able to represent someone who is as empowered and strong-minded and has such a moral compass,” said the actress. “I think [Delilah] represents Black women in ways that we haven’t seen on a consistent basis. And I think the story itself has not necessarily been told before. But it means the world to me; a literal dream come through. I can only hope that she’ll be well-received, but I do think that she’s an accurate reflection of women who are trying to balance their lives as well as fight for things that are meaningful to them.”
Charles Randolph-Wright and Cheryl Dunye (“Queen Sugar,” “David Makes Man”) are directing the series, with Dunye directing the pilot episode.
Filmed very carefully in Charlotte, North Carolina throughout much of the COVID-19 pandemic, the series is produced by Warner Bros. Television and Harpo Films.
“Delilah” premieres in Tuesday, March 9 at 9pm ET/PT. OWN.