Tony Award Winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson Writes Adaptation of August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey” for Netflix

You have no idea how exciting this is. One, Ruben Santiago-Hudson is a much cherished mentor of mine. Two, I’m a writer, so I’m unashamedly highlighting him as the writer behind this project. Three, this is the marriage of theatre and film. THEATRE and FILM. An August Wilson stage play adapted for the screen. An August Wilson stage play coming to the screen. Your screen. A chance for people — particularly black people — who may think they don’t like theatre to discover, “Wow! Theatre is actually amazing. Now that I’ve had a taste of theatre on Netflix, I should go see a theatrical production and experience stories being told live in front of my eyes.” I spend a HUGE portion of my life trying to show the greater portion of the African-American community how amazing the world of theatre is, and the struggle is real. Too real. So, this is a huge win. A HUGE win to be able to share this kind of news with you.

Netflix states that the “Ma Rainey” creative team includes Tony Award winners George C. Wolfe as director, Ruben Santiago-Hudson adapting the play for the screen, and Denzel Washington producing. Filming commences next month. According to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“Santiago-Hudson was nominated for a 2017 Tony for directing ‘Jitney,’ the 10th of Wilson’s 10 American Century Cycle plays to land on Broadway, and he earned a 1996 best featured actor Tony as Canewell in ‘Seven Guitars’…Santiago-Hudson spoke of his connection to August Wilson’s work on April 26, when he attended and performed at the gala fundraiser for the August Wilson African-American Cultural Center. ‘Anytime we have an opportunity to celebrate what is uniquely and specifically African-American culture on the highest level of artistic integrity, it’s a joy, and August Wilson was the epitome of that,’ Santiago-Hudson said. The director-actor-writer…put Wilson and Shakespeare 1-2 as his top playwrights. ‘August explored his characters’ humanity, whereas most of the greatest writers who stand next to August never really knew who we were as African-American people,’ Santiago-Hudson said. ‘No disdain, no disrespect; they just didn’t know how to chronicle it.'”

Thank you, Netflix, for allowing “Ma Rainey” to call your platform home and huge congrats to Ruben Santiago-Hudson, the start studded cast, and creative team behind this amazing work. Can’t wait to watch!


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Header photo courtesy of Black Talent TV

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