Actor, writer and producer Lena Waithe is looking to move beyond the big screen and the written page. Hillman Grad Productions, the company created by Waithe and Rishi Rajani, has signed a multi-project development deal with Audible to create audio programming.
“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,” said Zola Mashariki, Head of Audible Studios. “Lena’s creative voice is authentic, accessible, and powerfully potent, and we at Audible are thrilled to help bring her audio stories to life.”
The first project is titled Kym and it has already been greenlit and is underway. Kym is an original, scripted comedy series inspired by the life of Emmy nominated actress and comedian Kym Whitley.
“We’re so excited to be expanding into the podcast space in collaboration with Audible and continuing our mission to tell human stories,” said Waithe and Rajani in a joint statement on behalf of Hillman Grad Productions. “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.”
The Kym series follows Whitley as she navigates single motherhood and Hollywood. Whitley is set to executive produce under her Kwick Whit Productions banner and star, with Mark Brown directing. The series is also produced by Andrew Coles of The Mission, Debra Martin Chase of Martin Chase, and Skydance, alongside Hillman Grad Productions with Hillman Grad Creative Executive Sylvia Carrasco overseeing the project for the company.
“Lena is a supremely gifted storyteller with a proven ability to capture the human experience in all its complexity through her work. Along with her company, Hillman Grad Productions, she elevates diverse voices and creates art that challenges convention,” said Mashariki in the announcement.
Hillman Grad Productions is currently also working on TV series include “The Chi” for Showtime, “Twenties” for BET, and “Them” For Amazon Studios.
Hillman Grad projects will join the growing roster at Audible. Recent releases include the unscripted podcast My Body, My Podcast from Elizabeth Banks, which explores the female experience; 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, a musical journey with virtuoso Yo-Yo Ma that encourages self-discovery and reflects our deeply interwoven humanity.
Audible has also inked development deals with talent such as Charlamagne tha God’s CTHAGOD World Productions, Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit, Laura Dern’s Jaywalker Pictures, Kenya Barris’ Khalabo Ink Society, Topic Studios, Treefort Media, Team Coco, Steph Curry’s Unanimous Media, Kevin Hart’s HartBeat Productions, and The SpringHill Company, founded by LeBron James and Maverick Carter.