×
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

  • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

    TV News Roundup: 'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah' to Air Live After Democratic Debates

    In today’s roundup, Trevor Noah announces two live specials after the first Democratic debates and the new season of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” sets a premiere date. SPECIALS “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” will broadcast live following the Democratic Party’s first 2020 presidential primary debates on June 26 and 27 at 11 p.m. ET on Comedy Central. [...]

  • Agents Accuse Writers Guild of Refusing

    Writers Guild 'Plans to Respond' to Agents' Proposal as Frustration Mounts

    In a sign of increasing frustration, Hollywood agents have accused the Writers Guild of America of foot-dragging in the bitter two-month dispute. “It has become clear as more days pass that the Guild is not interested in making a deal,” said the negotiating committee for the agents in statement issued Tuesday. “Over the past year, [...]

  • Samantha Bee Variety

    Samantha Bee Isn't Thrilled to Be the Last Woman Standing in Late Night

    Samantha Bee is now the only female host in late night, and that’s a stat she’s not happy about. “It’s a bit unsettling,” Bee recently told Variety. “It’s been a bad year to be a woman in this space. It’s not really a badge that I want to wear.” Shows that have been canceled over [...]

  • XXXTentacion

    Watch a Trailer for New XXXTentacion Documentary

    A year to the day after rapper XXXTentacion was murdered, his estate has released a trailer for an upcoming documentary on the artist, which the announcement says is “releasing soon.” The clip, which includes narration from X himself, captures quick flashes of him reuniting with family and friends, engaging with fans, and working on music. In the [...]

  • The-Saddest-Goal

    Fascism and Fútbol Feature in Chilean Series Project ‘The Saddest Goal’

    PAMPLONA, Spain – Chilean production company Manufactura de Películas pitched its unconventional Pinochet-era drama “The Saddest Goal” today at Spain’s Conecta Fiction TV co-production and networking TV event, held in Pamplona. Set during qualification for the 1974 FIFA World Cup, a period of great political instability in Chile, “The Saddest Goal” kicks off as the [...]

  • Spain’s La Claqueta, Portugal’s SPi Ink

    Conecta Fiction: La Claqueta and SPi Ink Fiction Co-Production Pact

    Spain’s Seville-based shingle La Claqueta and Portugal’s SPi have clinched a co-development agreement for three fiction projects a year. Companies first made contact at last year’s Conecta Fiction, the annual co-production meet in Spain. The companies have also pacted to co-produce the animated feature-length docu “El viaje más largo” in collaboration with Portuguese pubcaster RTP [...]

  • Eliza Clark

    'Y: The Last Man' Series at FX Hires Eliza Clark as New Showrunner

    The FX series based on “Y: The Last Man” has found its new showrunner. Eliza Clark has been named showrunner, writer, and executive producer on the upcoming series — which is titled simply “Y” — based on the graphic novels by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. She takes over from original showrunners Michael Green [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content