Cheryl Dunye Set to Lead as Showrunner for ‘The Gilda Stories’

Cheryl Dunye Set to Lead as Showrunner for ‘The Gilda Stories’

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The Gilda Stories
The Gilda Stories

Beloved Afrofuturistic vampire lesbian tale published in 1991, The Gilda Stories was the winner of two Lambda Literary Awards

San Francisco-based film company 13th Gen has acquired the option to The Gilda Stories, the beloved 1991 novel by renowned author, playwright, and activist Jewelle Gomez that follows the adventures of Gilda, an escaped black slave and the bisexual vampire who comes of age over 200 years of African American history.

13th Gen will develop The Gilda Stories for episodic television with award-winning filmmaker Cheryl Dunye who is attached to write, direct, and lead the project as showrunner. 13th Gen CEO Marc Smolowitz will executive produce the series.

“We are thrilled to bring The Gilda Stories to a whole new generation of fans under the unique stewardship of our longtime creative collaborator Cheryl Dunye,” says Smolowitz.

Dunye added, “Jewelle Gomez is the foremother of Afrofuturism, which is wildly popular right now. The project of bringing a Jewelle Gomez novel to film or television has long been a dream of mine, and with The Gilda Stories, we have the perfect vehicle to bring her uniquely magical and transgressive voice to episodic audiences everywhere.”

First published in 1991 by Firebrand Books, The Gilda Stories is a speculative fiction vampire novel that follows the experiences of a black bisexual heroine whose power and morality challenge mainstream literary assumptions about the vampire myth. In the 1990s, the book quickly became a classic and has never gone out of print. In 2016, San Francisco’s City Lights Publishers successfully released a 25th Anniversary edition of the novel, prompting Dunye to approach Gomez about working together.

Gomez said, “Gilda has seduced a legion of loyal fans over many years. Having marveled at Cheryl Dunye’s impressive career since her first film The Watermelon Woman, I know that she is just the filmmaker to ensure Gilda gains many more.”

Known for her lifelong commitment to the arts and activism, Gomez is the author of seven books and has been the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and two California Arts Council Artist in Residence grants. In 2017, she received the Barbary Coast Trailblazer Award from the LitQuake Literary Festival, and she was a 2018 Community Grand Marshal for San Francisco Pride.

Dunye has made over 15 films including Mommy is Coming, The Owls, My Baby’s Daddy, and HBO’s Stranger Inside, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and garnered her an Independent Spirit Award nomination for best director. Her debut film, The Watermelon Woman, won the Teddy Prize at Berlinale in 1996. The film was recently restored by Outfest’s UCLA Legacy Project for its 20th anniversary. Dunye has received numerous awards and honors for her work, including a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship. As an episodic director, she has added her unique voice to many popular shows in recent years, including Queen Sugar, Claws, The Fosters, Love Is, and Star. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Gomez is represented by Laurie Liss at Sterling, Lord, Literistic. Cheryl Dunye is represented by Chris Ridenhour and Jack Leighton at APA. Smolowitz of 13th Gen negotiated the deal with Sterling, Lord, Literistic, and his company is working closely with APA on the development of the series aiming for production by early 2020.

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