×

‘Blindspotting’ Series at Starz Casts Key Roles as Production Begins (EXCLUSIVE)

Blindspotting Starz
Courtesy of Starz Entertainment

The “Blindspotting” series at Starz has cast several key roles as production kicks off in Los Angeles and Oakland, Variety has learned exclusively.

Along with previously announced series lead Jasmine Cephas Jones, the eight-episode, half-hour dramedy will also star Benjamin Earl Turner, Atticus Woodward, Jaylen Barron, and Candace Nicholas-Lippman. The writers, producers, and stars of the film on which the series is based, Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, will also write and executive produce the series. Casal will serve as showrunner in addition to reprising the role of Miles in a recurring capacity. He will also direct an episode of the show. Jones will serve as producer in addition to starring.

“Diggs and I are thrilled to continue our partnership with Lionsgate by expanding the ‘Blindspotting’ world as a series on Starz,” Casal said. “This story, the incredible cast and the production are a dream. We are making the kind of show we have long hoped to see on television, centered around just some of the amazing kinds of characters the Bay Area has to offer.”

Jones will reprise her lead role as Ashley, a woman who is nipping at the heels of a middle-class life in Oakland until Miles, her partner of 12 years and father of their son, is suddenly incarcerated, leaving her to navigate a chaotic and humorous existential crisis when she is forced to move in with Miles’ mother and half-sister. Jones most recently picked up an Emmy Award for her starring role in the Quibi series “#Freerayshawn.”

“Figuring out a way to bring The Bay to life in a half-hour comedy space has been so rewarding,” Diggs said. “Ultimately, this is a story about how a broken prison system affects all of us and, like the film, we’re using comedy to talk about very real systemic effects in the country with the largest prison population in the world.”

Turner is a musician, writer, actor, spoken word artist and alumnus of #BARS Workshop lab series, created by Casal and Diggs, at the Public Theater in New York. He will play Earl, who is fresh out of jail and wearing an ankle bracelet while doing a year of house arrest. He is just trying to kill time and lay low. Turner will also serve as a writer on the series.

Woodward will play Ashley and Miles’ sweet, smart and energetic son, Sean. He is best known for his appearance on the Showtime series “Shameless.”

Barron is four-time Young Artist Award-nominated actress who has appeared in shows like “Shake It Up” and “See Dad Run.” Her breakout roles include “Shameless” and “Free Rein.” She will play Miles’ younger half-sister, Trish, who might be wilder than he is. While she is quite a handful, she is the most loyal and loving person you’ll ever meet.

Nicholas-Lippman was discovered by Casal and Diggs through an open casting call and her spoken-word poetry. She has appeared in several high-profile Los Angeles plays including “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “In The Next Room,” which earned her a nomination for Best Supporting Female in LA Scenie Award and LA Weekly Award. She will play Ashley’s close friend, Janelle, who is equal parts TOWN as hell and worldly. She has just returned to the neighborhood in Oakland after spending many years in Bali.

Jess Wu Calder and Keith Calder of Snoot Entertainment, who produced the film, will also executive produce the series along with Emily Gerson Saines, Ken Lee, and Tim Palen of Barnyard Projects. Palen previously served as Lionsgate’s chief brand officer and head of worldwide theatrical marketing for over 15 years. Seith Mann will executive produce and direct the first two episodes.

Lionsgate Television will produce, with Lionsgate also having produced the film. Starz’ senior vice president of original programming Kathryn Tyus-Adair is the executive overseeing “Blindspotting” on behalf of the network. Maggie Leung is the executive overseeing the series on behalf of Lionsgate.

Lazy loaded image
Courtesy of Patrick Wymore