Variety Launches Audio Channel Powered By Audible

Lena Waithe, the Emmy-winning actor, writer and producer, is diving into audio programming in a new partnership with Audible.

Audible, Amazon’s premium audio storytelling service, announced a multiproject development deal with Hillman Grad Productions, founded by Waithe and Rishi Rajani.

The first original project under the deal has already been greenlit and is in active development: “Kym,” an original, scripted comedy series inspired by the life of actor-comedian Kym Whitley. The series follows Kym as she navigates single motherhood and Hollywood. Whitley is set to star in and executive produce under her Kwick Whit Productions banner, with Mark Brown directing. Alongside Hillman Grad Productions, the series is also produced by OBB Sound, Andrew Coles of The Mission, Debra Martin Chase of Martin Chase and Skydance Media. Hillman Grad creative executive Sylvia Carrasco will be overseeing “Kym” for the company. Michael D. Ratner, Scott Ratner, Elias Tanner, Miranda Sherman and Grace Delia are overseeing for OBB Sound.

“We’re so excited to be expanding into the podcast space in collaboration with Audible and continuing our mission to tell human stories,” Waithe and Rajani said in a joint statement. “We are really grateful to Kym, for sharing not only her story but her signature voice with us. Kym Whitley has always been one of the funniest women in the business, and we’re so glad she’s finally going to take center stage!”

Hillman Grad Productions’ current projects include “The Chi” for Showtime, BET’s “Twenties,” and horror anthology series “Them” for Amazon Studios. The company is in development on BET Plus dramedy series “Birth of Cool” and BET’s “Twenties the After Show” hosted by B. Scott.

“Lena is a supremely gifted storyteller with a proven ability to capture the human experience in all its complexity through her work,” said Zola Mashariki, head of Audible Studios. “Along with her company, Hillman Grad Productions, she elevates diverse voices and creates art that challenges convention. I’ve had the privilege of working with Lena in both TV and film and am absolutely ecstatic to collaborate with her again as she makes her mark on the audio industry.”

The Hillman Grad podcasts will join the lineup of Audible Originals, which include Elizabeth Banks’ unscripted “My Body, My Podcast”; “Force of Beauty,” the story of three generations of Black women; “Billie Was a Black Woman,” a four-part podcast series that refracts Black womanhood through the prism of legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday; and “Beginner’s Mind” with virtuoso cellist Yo-Yo Ma, which reflects on our deeply interwoven humanity.

In recent months, Audible has announced a string of podcast deals with Hollywood talent and their production shingles. Those include Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit, Laura Dern’s Jaywalker Pictures, Kenya Barris’ Khalabo Ink Society, Conan O’Brien’s Team Coco, Steph Curry’s Unanimous Media, Kevin Hart’s HartBeat Productions, Charlamagne Tha God’s CTHAGOD World Productions, the SpringHill Co., founded by LeBron James and Maverick Carter, and Michael D. Ratner’s OBB Sound (the audio division of OBB Media).

Waithe is represented by Blue Marble Management, WME, Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano, and ID. Whitley is represented by ICM, Untitled Entertainment and Fox Rothschild.

Source : https://variety.com/2021/digital/news/lena-waithe-audible-podcast-1235082472/

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