A report by Odunayo Eweniyi for Konbini.
Issa Rae’s Insecure and Beyonce’s Formation were two of the most important pieces of art for (black) audiences in 2016. And they were directed by the same person: Melina Matsoukas.
Now, Melina is working on a new TV show, an adaptation of the award-winning Marlon James novel A Brief History of Seven Killings for Amazon Studios. The novel won the 2015 Man Booker Prize, making Marlon James the first Jamaican writer to win the prestigious literary award.
A Brief History of Seven Killings starts with the attempted assassination of reggae icon, Bob Marley, and explores its aftermath, looking at one vital day in multiple time periods.
The novel explores Jamaican politics, poverty, race, class and the volatile relationship between the U.S. and the Caribbean, and traces the connection between CIA efforts to destabilize a left-wing Jamaican government in the 1970s to the brutal realities of gang wars in the Kingston ghettos and their spread to New York in the 1980s.
The novel’s action unfolds mostly through the introspection of its main characters, which could prove a challenge when adapting it for TV. But historical data and a ton of hit shows and videos show that Melina is more than capable of handling it.
Melina Matsoukas will executive produce the show and direct the episodes. She will be working alongside the author of the book, Marlon James, who is also developing the show’s script and serving as an executive producer. Empire writer and co-executive producer, Malcolm Spellman, will be the showrunner and also serve as executive producer.
In addition to her Insecure and Formation credits, Melina has directed videos for Rihanna (“We Found Love” and many others), Beyoncé, Solange, Lady Gaga and more. She also directed some episodes of Netflix’s Master of None.