At its first ever Television Critics Association press tour presentation, Disney’s Onyx Collective announced three new series orders: true crime docuseries “Ring of Fire: The Life of Annie Mae Aquash” (working title) directed by Yvonne Russo, an untitled project about car culture hosted by Swizz Beatz and “Searching for Soul Food” hosted by chef Alisa Reynolds and executive produced by Melina Matsoukas.
Onyx Collective also set an Oct. 22 premiere date for Oprah Winfrey, Tracee Ellis Ross and Michaela Angela Davis’ docuseries “The Hair Tales” and debuted a trailer for Raamla Mohamed’s legal drama “Reasonable Doubt.” Additionally, an extension was announced of Yara Shahidi and her production company 7th Sun’s overall deal with Onyx Collective and ABC Signature.
“Ring of Fire: The Life of Annie Mae Aquash” examines the life and murder of Annie Mae Aquash. A Mi’kmaq woman from Nova Scotia, Canada, Annie Mae was a mother, teacher and revolutionary who fought for Indigenous rights and whose death in the 1970s went unsolved for almost 30 years. Led by Annie Mae’s daughter, the quest for answers contextualizes Annie Mae’s case within the current day epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Russ executive produces with Amy Kaufman, Caroline Waterlow, Ezra Edelman and Riva Marker. Laylow Pictures produces in association with Nine Stories Productions.
In Swizz Beatz’s untitled project, the hip-hop legend and car collector visits car-loving destinations to examine each area’s distinctive car culture and bring together two otherwise disparate car clubs over a shared love of all things automotive and an appreciation for what it’s like to beat the odds through sheer drive alone. The series is produced by Jay Brown and Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith of Ty Ty and Jay Brown Productions, Raymond Garcia of Major TV, Emmet Dennis of Black Drive Originals and Christian Sarabia of 51 Minds.
“Searching for Soul Food” follows Reynolds’ discoveries of what soul food looks like around the world. As she seeks out food in Mississippi, Oklahoma, Appalachia, South Africa, Italy, Jamaica, Peru and Los Angeles, she’ll also explore the stories, people and traditions of each location, bringing her own flavor with her. Matsoukas executive produces alongside director Rodney Lucas Jacob Cohen-Holmes and Ali Brown. Traci Curry serves as showrunner. “Searching for Soul Food” is produced by Woodman Park Productions, De La Revolucion and Ventureland.
“The Hair Tales” will premiere with two episodes on Hulu and OWN, with two episodes releasing weekly on Hulu and one episode releasing weekly on OWN in the weeks to follow. The docuseries connects the personal tales of phenomenal Black women to broader societal and historic themes of identity and beauty, featuring guests such as Winfrey, Issa Rae, Chlöe Bailey, Chika, Ayanna Pressley, Marsai Martin, Esi Eggleston Bracey, Dr. Noliwe Rooks, Mickalene Thomas and Meshell Ndegeocello. “The Hair Tales” is produced by Culture House, Joy Mill Entertainment, Tetravision and Harpo Films. Raeshem Nijhon, Carri Twigg and Kisha Imani Cameron also serve as executive producers.
“Reasonable Doubt” follows Jax Stewart (Emayatzy Corinealdi), who has questionable ethics and wild interpretations of the law, but is ultimately the most brilliant and fearless defense attorney in Los Angeles who bucks the justice system at every chance she gets. Tim Jo, McKinley Freeman and Angela Grovey also star. See the new trailer below.
Shahidi first set her overall deal with ABC Studios in 2020 after establishing 7th Sun with her mother, Keri Shahidi. Yara stars in and executive produces “Grown-ish,” Freeform’s spinoff of ABC’s “Black-ish.” The series is now in its fifth season.
About the extension of the deal, Yara and Keri said, “It is every creative’s dream to be seen and heard and to do so with colleagues who align with your vision and your soul. We are so grateful to have the opportunity to continue to create with our Disney family and be grounded in the work that Onyx Collective is doing to meet the moment.”
“It is an exciting time to be leading Onyx Collective. When we opened our doors just over a year ago, we set out to nurture imaginative storytelling, creating disruptive, inclusive and wildly entertaining narratives that would spark conversation and forward the culture,” said Onyx Collective president Tara Duncan, who also runs Freeform. “That vision is materializing in ways we could have only dreamed of, and we remain grateful to have a clear lane at Disney General Entertainment, a company that has empowered our work from day one.”