Water Dancer, The: Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt, MGM to Adapt Ta-Nehisi Coates Novel

Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt, MGM Team for Adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ The Water Dancer


Ta-Nehisi Coates - book-cover The Water Dancer-and-Oprah-Winfrey
Courtesy Photo: Gabriella Demczuk/ The New York Times; Vera Anderson/WireImage

Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt are teaming up to adapt The Water Dancer, the best-selling novel by Ta-Nehisi Coates, for MGM.

Winfrey’s Harpo Films and Pitt’s Plan B are producing along with Kamilah Forbes, who previously developed and directed the theatrical event of Coates’ Between the World and Me at the legendary Apollo Theater and Kennedy Center.

Coates adapted his own novel, which was Winfrey’s first selection of her revived Oprah’s Book Club in partnership with Apple.

It was listed as one of the best books of the year for 2019 by Time, NPR, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Vanity Fair and Esquire, among others.

Set in the pre-Civil War South, the story follows Hiram Walker, born into bondage. He possesses amazing photographic memory but has no memory of his mother. A car accident reveals to him a superpower called conduction, an ability to travel large distances and that is triggered by powerful memories of his mother. As he struggles to gain an understanding of this power, he becomes involved with the Underground Railroad and meets historical figures.

“Ta-Nehisi’s debut fiction novel has at its heart, a beautiful character in Hiram Walker, whose personal odyssey weaves the supernatural and spiritual, with the terrible reality of the forced separations endured by enslaved people and their families for centuries,” said MGM’s film group chairman Michael De Luca and MGM’s film group president Pamela Abdy in a statement. “Hiram’s story is one of devotion to those he loves, and the journey he takes to bring them together. All of us at MGM are incredibly honored to join Ta-Nehisi, Kamilah, Plan B and Harpo Films in bringing this film to the screen.”

“I’m honored to be working with Harpo, Plan B and my old friend Kamilah Forbes,” stated Coates. “We all believe that MGM is the best home for this adaptation and look forward to bringing it to life.”

Coate’s Between the World and Me is currently being adapted at HBO as a special, starring Jharrel Jerome, Wendell Pierce, Yara Shahidi and MJ Rodriguez.

Forbes’ adaptation of Coates’ work will debut on HBO as a special later in November with Mahershala Ali, Courtney B. Vance, Angela Bassett and others taking part. Forbes is also the executive producer of the Apollo Theater.

Forbes adaptation of Coates’ Between the World and Me moves beyond the stage when it will debut on HBO later in November with Mahershala Ali, Courtney B. Vance, Angela Bassett and others taking part of the special. Forbes is also the executive producer of the Apollo Theater.

Plan B has found success in bringing Black stories to the screen by being involved with such movies as 12 Years a Slave, Moonlight, and If Beale Street Could Talk.

Coates is the acclaimed essayist and author of the bestselling books We Were Eight Years in Power, and Between The World And Me, which won the National Book Award in 2015 and has spent over 100 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.

He is also the current author of the Marvel comics The Black Panther and Captain America.