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‘Vida’ Director Joins Universal’s ‘Talent Show’ From ‘The Hate U Give’ Producers (EXCLUSIVE)

Gandja Monteiro, who has gained recognition for her work on Starz’s series “Vida,” will direct Universal Pictures’ “Talent Show,” based on an idea by Duane Adler from the “Step Up” franchise.

Lena Waithe wrote the latest version of the script, with an earlier version by Adler. “The Hate U Give” producers George Tillman Jr. and Robert Teitel will produce for their State Street Pictures. Waithe will executive produce.

The pic tells the story of a failed songwriter who returns home to Chicago to lead a group of at-risk youth in their annual talent show. Senior executive vice president of production Erik Baiers and senior vice president of production Sara Scott will oversee the project on behalf of Universal. Jay Marcus, who runs development at State Street Pictures, will oversee on behalf of the company.

This marks another strong move by Universal and studio chairman Donna Langley in diversifying its pool of directors with more female filmmakers. Universal recently tapped “Black Panther” DP Rachel Morrison to make her directorial debut on “Flint Strong,” as well Stella Meghie, who recently started filming “The Photograph” for the studio.

It also marks Monteiro’s first movie for a major studio, having mainly worked on short films in addition to “Vida.” She was a participant in the 2018 Universal Directors Initiative, and is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women and Fox’s Directing Lab for Women. She’s also worked on commercials and branded content for companies including Nike, Adidas, Google, Coca-Cola, AT&T, Chevrolet and Smirnoff, and music videos for rappers like Pusha-T.

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She is repped by Verve, LBI Entertainment and Morris Yorn. Waithe is repped by WME, the Mission Entertainment and Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano. Tillman Jr. and Teitel are represented by CAA and Ziffren Brittenham LLP. Tillman Jr. is also represented by Gotham.

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