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Mary Waireri’s series “Exiles” has been selected for development via EbonyLife Media and Sony Pictures Television’s Alo, an initiative offering a platform for writers of African heritage.

Nairobi-born, London-bred screenwriter Waireri’s script follows a Kenyan-born British doctor returns to the country she fled as a young girl to find her twin brother who goes missing while investigating a government cover-up. Soon, she finds herself drawn into a dark conspiracy.

Waireri originally wrote “Exiles” as a feature-length project while completing the screenwriting certificate at the U.K.’s National Film and Television School. The screenplay won the FilmarketHub 2020 screenwriting competition and was shortlisted for the 2020 BBC Scriptworks and Thousand Films screenwriting competition.

The writer is an alumna of the inaugural Realness Institute and Netflix Africa Episodic Lab, where she developed a Swahili folk horror concept and has also worked on treatment commissions for Studiocanal U.K. She was recently selected for the Royal Court Theatre playwriting workshop for early-career playwrights. 

Waireri will now work with the Sony Pictures Television global scripted development team and EbonyLife to develop “Exiles” and take the series to market.

EbonyLife has an existing first look deal with SPT for scripted TV projects.

Waireri said: “As a lover of thriller, horror, and sci-fi, I’m interested in exploring the many dimensions of the African diaspora and diaspora experiences through a grounded genre lens. I’m excited to work with the teams at Sony Pictures Television and EbonyLife to bring Exiles to life.”

Mo Abudu, CEO, EbonyLife Media, added: “I am excited and thrilled with the progress that we have made with the Alo initiative. It creates an opportunity for another story to be told from our continent, for another voice to be heard. Congratulations to Mary on her submission and selection and we look forward to bringing ‘Exiles’ to the world in partnership with Sony Pictures Television.”

Nina Lederman, executive VP, global scripted development, for Sony Pictures Television, said: “We launched the Alo initiative with the team at EbonyLife to unearth unique stories and great talent – we wanted submissions that would pay homage to Africa’s cultures, heritage and people in a way that would resonate with audiences the world over. ‘Exiles’ is a fantastic, exciting project and the whole team are looking forward to working with Mary on the next step of its journey.”