×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Activist Topeka K. Sam Sets Deal With 44 Blue Productions (EXCLUSIVE)

Activist and social entrepreneur Topeka K. Sam has signed a development deal with 44 Blue ProductionsVariety has learned exclusively.

Under the deal with 44 Blue, which is part of Red Arrow Studios, Sam will develop both scripted and unscripted series inspired by her fight to change the many problems that plague female incarceration. Sam recently made headlines after creating the video that inspired Kim Karadashian West to visit the White House in a successful bid for clemency for Alice Marie Johnson.

“There are 1.1 million women under the control of the U.S. criminal justice system, and 86% of them are survivors of sexual assault, 80% of incarcerated women are mothers, and 50% of women in prison suffer from severe mental illness,” Sam said. “Since 1980, female incarceration has ballooned by 800%, growing faster than men. These are statistics we just can’t ignore and will not ignore any longer. Working with 44 Blue will help us shed light not only the individual stories that need to be told, but also the effective legislative vehicles, policy and regulatory statues that must be in place in our efforts to facilitate true impact on the overall human dignity throughout this broken criminal injustice system for my sisters and my people.”

In 2012, while working as an entrepreneur and as division chairwoman for a transportation agency, Sam was indicted for selling large quantities of cocaine as part of an ongoing federal investigation. While awaiting trial in country jail, she learned firsthand about the disparities in the criminal justice system for women, particularly women of color. After her release in 2015, she founded The Ladies of Hope Ministries, whose mission is to help disenfranchised and marginalized women and girls transition back into society through resources and access to high-quality education, entrepreneurship, spiritual empowerment, advocacy and housing.

She is also the co-founder of Hope House NYC – a safe housing space for women and girls. She serves on the board of directors for Grassroots Leadership, Coalition for Public Safety and the first formerly incarcerated person on the board of The Marshall Project. She is a Beyond the Bars 2015 Fellow and a 2016 Justice-In-Education Scholar both from Columbia University, a 2017 Soros Justice Advocacy Fellow working on Probation and Parole Accountability, a 2018 Unlocked Futures Inaugural Cohort Member, 2018 Opportunity Agenda Communications Institute Fellow, Director of #Dignity Campaign for #cut50, Host of “The Topeka K. Sam Show” on SiriusXM UrbanView Channel 126 Sundays 9 am est. and founding member of The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls. She will also be a panelist at the Variety-Rolling Stone Criminal Justice Reform summit on Nov. 14.

“I met Topeka earlier this year after hearing her speak on a panel at The Women in the World conference,” said Stephanie Drachkovitch, co-founder and president of 44 Blue. “Her story of personal redemption and women’s prison reform really resonated with me because of 44 Blue’s long history of telling stories about the corrections system, not just in the United States, but corrections around the world. No one else has produced as many hours or as many stories about the criminal justice system as 44 Blue. We’ve always been inspired by stories of extreme human condition—from MSNBC’s iconic and long-running ‘Lockup’ to OWN’s ‘Breaking Down the Bars’ to A&E’s ‘Nightwatch Nation.’ Topeka’s dynamic personality, personal story and fierce commitment to change are making an impact, and I knew we had to find a way to share her voice with the world. We’re now ready to highlight Topeka’s insight and perspective on how women are treated throughout the entire criminal justice system — it’s a story that 44 Blue can’t wait to tell and partner with Topeka as Executive Producer in both scripted and unscripted series.”

 

More TV

  • Netflix Orders Adult Animated Comedy 'Inside

    Netflix Orders Adult Animated Comedy 'Inside Job' from Shion Takeuchi

    Netflix is set to add another adult animated show to its burgeoning slate, Variety as confirmed. The streamer has put out a series order of “Inside Job” from “Gravity Falls” and “Disenchantment” writer Shion Takeuchi. The show will be the first series Takeuchi produces under her recently-signed overall deal with Netflix. The 20-episode adult animated series [...]

  • Peabody Award Logo

    Peabody Awards Announce First-Ever Catalyst Award and 2019 News and Radio/Podcast Winners

    The Peabody Board of Jurors have selected “$2 Tests: Bad Arrests,” “Anatomy of a Killing,” “Back of the Class,” “Cambridge Analytica,” “The Plastic Problem,” “Separated: Children at the Border” and “Spartan Silence: Crisis at Michigan State” as the 2019 Peabody Award winners in the news category, Variety has learned. Additionally, “Believed,” “Buried Truths,” “Caliphate,” “Kept [...]

  • Ryan Murphy Walk of Fame

    Ryan Murphy Says He Has 10 Greenlit Projects at Netflix

    At the Time 100 Summit on Tuesday, Ryan Murphy revealed that he has 10 greenlit projects in the pipeline at Netflix, including three documentaries, four TV shows, and three movies. Murphy has previously announced five titles slated for a Netflix release. Three are shows, including “Ratched,” the drama series starring Sarah Paulson as the infamous [...]

  • Zachary Levi

    'Shazam!' Star Zachary Levi to Host 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards

    “Shazam!” star Zachary Levi will be suiting up next for the 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards in June. Levi will emcee the award show on June 17 at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif. Nominees will be announced in the coming weeks. Fresh off DC Comics’ latest blockbuster, Levi is no stranger to [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Brothers Accused of Jussie Smollett Attack Sue His Attorneys for Defamation

    The two brothers who allegedly participated in a staged hate attack on Jussie Smollett have filed a defamation suit against Smollett’s lawyers, accusing the attorneys of smearing their reputations in a bid to salvage Smollett’s image. Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo filed suit in federal court in Illinois on Tuesday. The suit alleges that Smollett’s attorneys [...]

  • Laura Donnelly

    Joss Whedon's HBO Series 'The Nevers' Casts Laura Donnelly in Lead Role

    Laura Donnelly has been cast in the lead role of Joss Whedon’s upcoming HBO series “The Nevers,” Variety has confirmed. The drama was ordered straight-to-series back in July. The series is described as a sci-fi epic about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change [...]

  • Nailed It Season 3

    'Nailed It!' Season 3 Sets May Premiere Date at Netflix

    Netflix has renewed the reality baking competition series “Nailed It!” for a third season, set to premiere globally on May 17. The show is a twist on traditional cooking shows, by bringing together home bakers who make up for their lack of skill with their enthusiastic attitudes. Comedian Nicole Byer and renowned pastry chef Jacques [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content