Vince Staples, Xavier Mills, Melvin Gregg, Essence Renae and Karen Obilom to Star in “The Wood”
SHOWTIME has announced the cast for the pilot of the network’s new comedy series THE WOOD, based on the coming-of-age feature film written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa (THE CHI, Dope). Famuyiwa is directing the pilot and executive producing with Justin Hillian (THE CHI, Snowfall), who is writing the script. Executive producing along with Famuyiwa and Hillian are Gunpowder & Sky’s Van Toffler and David Gale. The pilot, currently in production in Inglewood, Calif., is a production of Paramount Television Studios. Guest stars Richard T. Jones (The Rookie) and Tamala Jones (Castle) will reprise their original roles as Slim and Tanya from the film.
THE WOOD is an honest look at friendship and dating from the perspective of three young Black males born and raised in the gentrifying L.A. suburb of Inglewood. The trio’s struggles to balance fatherhood, ambition and loyalty force them to question if they are growing apart, or closer together. With a knowing nod back to the characters of the 1999 film on which it is based, this romantic comedy showcases the humor and heart of young Black men and women trying to navigate life, love and likes on the ‘Gram.
The pilot will star Vince Staples (Lazor Wolf) as Jamal, an aspiring photographer from Ladera Heights, who has been cut off by his upper-class family when he decided to follow his own path instead of going to historic Morehouse College. Xavier Mills (Grief, Legacies) stars as Dame, a sheep in wolves’ clothing who is educated and ambitious but frustrated by his lot in life. He’s guarded and emotionally unavailable to everyone except for his high school sweetheart Brielle, played by Karen Obilom (Doom Patrol, Games People Play). Brielle is a confident, polished engineer with big dreams of surpassing her humble beginnings. Melvin Gregg (Snowfall, Nine Perfect Strangers) plays Shawn, a Pokémon card reseller weighing the pros and cons of staying loyal to his friends or growing up, settling down and trying to make his relationship work with Ashley, played by Essence Renae (Bosch: Legacy). Ashley is the mother of his daughter and an aspiring fashion designer who is impervious to his charms and has clear rules and expectations for him as a man and father.
Famuyiwa was raised in Inglewood. In addition to directing the feature film version of The Wood, originally released in 1999, Famuyiwa earned NAACP Image Awards(R) for Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture (Television) for Confirmation and Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture (Theatrical or Television) for Talk to Me. In addition, Famuyiwa won the African-American Film Critics Association(R) award for Best Screenplay for Dope, which he also directed. His other film projects as both writer and director include Our Family Wedding and Brown Sugar. For television, Famuyiwa shared a Writers Guild of America nomination for Drama Series for The Mandalorian. Famuyiwa directed the pilot episode of THE CHI, on which he has served as an executive producer since its premiere.
In addition to serving as showrunner on THE CHI since the beginning of its third season, Hillian earned a Black Reel Awards nomination for Outstanding Writing, Drama Series for his work on Snowfall. His other television credits include I’M DYING UP HERE and Superstore.