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'Moonlight' Director Barry Jenkins Is Turning 'The Underground Railroad' into an Amazon Series

Jenkins will write and direct the adaptation of Colson Whitehead's award-winning novel for the streaming service.
Drew Schwartz
Brooklyn, US
Photos by Tyler Golden and David Shankbone via Flickr

Barry Jenkins, fresh off his triumphant Best Picture Oscar win for Moonlight, has signed on to write and direct an adaptation of Colson Whitehead's popular award-winning novel, The Underground Railroad, Amazon Studios announced Monday.

The limited series, slated to run in hour-long episodes on the streaming service, will follow Whitehead's original story about Cora, a young girl born into slavery who decides to escape her Georgia plantation using the underground railroad—an actual train network that will shuttle her northward. The book has already sold more than 850,000 copies and garnered the praise of the Moonlight director, whose production company, PASTEL, will also produce the film alongside Brad Pitt's company, Plan B.

"Colson's writing has always defied convention, and The Underground Railroad is no different," Jenkins said in a press release. "It's a groundbreaking work that pays respect to our nation's history while using the form to explore it in a thoughtful and original way."

Outside of a brief stint writing for HBO's The Leftovers, this will be Jenkins's first time working in television. But after captivating the nation with his Academy Award–winning film about a young boy growing up gay, poor, and black in Miami, Amazon says its psyched to see what the filmmaker will bring to the medium.

"Colson Whitehead's book is a sweeping, character-driven, boundary-destroying epic," Amazon Studios's Head of Comedy, Drama, and VR, Joe Lewis, said in a statement. "Having Barry bring it to life for Amazon Studios is thrilling. We couldn't be more excited to see what they create."

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