“Shuga: Baltimore” is an offshoot of “MTV: Shuga,” the MTV Staying Alive Foundation’s long-running drama series and multimedia campaign that launched on Dec. 1 (World AIDS Day), 2009, in Kenya and followed the lives of young people on the African continent. Since then, the drama has had iterations in Nigeria, South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire and India and has touched on numerous plot lines relating to HIV testing and prevention, COVID-19, family planning and contraception, transactional sex, gender-based violence, and condom use. Stars include Lupita Nyong’o (“Black Panther”) and Thuso Mbedu (“The Woman King”).
Billed as “hyper-surrealist,” “Shuga: Baltimore” follows the lives of six individuals finding the beauty in their futures while surviving in a rapidly tech gentrifying city where they will face love, resolve, loss and hope while confronting their new roles in an evolving world. CBS Studios bought the format from the MTV Staying Alive Foundation.
The writer and co-EP is Greg “Mellow” Brown and EPs include Wayans Jr. and Tarlow for Two Shakes Entertainment and Georgia Arnold, Sara Piot and Richard Warburton for MTV Staying Alive Foundation and Paramount Global. Arnold, who serves as senior VP, international social responsibility at Paramount, was on Content London The Big Picture panel, where industry leaders championing change in inclusivity and diversity, sustainability and environment, business practice and operations and content and storytelling discuss how they are fostering positive change through new content, storytelling and supporting talent.
The MTV Staying Alive Foundation has proven impact with “MTV Shuga” viewers being twice as likely to get tested for HIV; more aware of HIV self testing; and young women are 55% less likely to test positive for chlamydia if they’ve been exposed to “MTV Shuga.”
Two Shakes was founded by Wayans Jr. and Tarlow with a commitment to taking characters who are traditionally fourth, fifth and sixth on a call sheet and making them first, second and third in a Two Shakes series. The company has a CBS Studios first look and is in production on their Netflix series “Glamorous,” starring Kim Cattrall and Miss Benny.