Lena Waithe
Lena Waithe

Showtime has ordered Lena Waithe’s hour-long Chicago-set drama titled “The Chi,” with Jason Mitchell joining the cast.

This is a revamp of a project that was initially announced in late 2015 when Showtime ordered a pilot, with Aisha Hinds, Tequan Richmond, Alex Henderson, Sierra McClain, Olivia Dawson and Jason Weaver all cast, executive produced and written by Lena Waithe, and executive produced by Common.

The project was redeveloped and recast, with Rick Famuyiwa (“Dope” most recently) coming on board to direct.

The Fox 21 project was initially described as a timely coming-of-age story of a young African American male, in which just growing up can be a matter of life and death. The redeveloped title will follow the lives of 6 interrelated characters on the South Side of Chicago. Jason Mitchell has signed up to play one of the 6 – Brandon, who is described per the Showtime release as an ambitious and confident young man who dreams about opening a restaurant of his own someday, but is conflicted between the promise of a new life and his responsibility to his mother and teenage brother back in the South Side.

In addition to Waithe and Common, Aaron Kaplan and Elwood Reid will executive produce. Reid will also serve as showrunner along with Waithe. Famuyiwa (who replaces Clark Johnson in the director’s chair, for the premiere episode) will also executive produce.

“The two creative forces behind the show, both hailing from Chicago’s South Side, give this [project] an unparalleled authenticity,” said David Nevins, President, Showtime Networks Inc. when the pilot was ordered in late 2015. “Lena Waithe is an extremely fresh, talented young writer with a unique voice and a deeply thoughtful perspective into the world where she grew up. I immediately gravitated to her script, which is emotional, funny, tragic and relevant, all at once. And, we are so fortunate to have artist and visionary Common for his first producing project in scripted television.”

With much attention given to violence in Chicago over the last year of the presidential election as well as on the screen (Spike Lee’s “Chi-Raq” is just one example), Waithe’s “The Chi” is most certainly right on time.

No ETA yet.