Damn Write Originals Lands Major Development Deal, Introduces Its First Asian American Lead in New Series

Nekala Rosetta
May 1 · 3 min read

Get into this…

While you’re practicing your 8-count to Beyoncé’s “Before I Let Go” challenge, you might want to check in with the team over at Damn Write Originals. Because while the rest of the world catches up to the excellence of HBCU life, DWO is cooking up more of it in Atlanta with its latest original series ‘Southern Fried Rice’. Written by Nakia Stephens and directed by Shayla Racquel, Southern Fried Rice tells the story of an HBCU freshman whose unique background raises questions from her classmates, and pushes her to redefine her cultural identity.

The show stars Kira Omans as ‘Koko Jackson’, a young, post-millennial Asian American adopted by southern Black parents and raised on HBCU pride.

“She [Koko] does not neatly fit a stereotype of a specific culture, and I love that she refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone, and by extension, society,” said Kira, “SFR is a story people have not seen before! It shines a spotlight on themes of culture, identity, and appropriation in a fresh, approachable way. The series is also just a fun college experience with hilarious dialogue!”

Throughout the show, Koko’s family and friends, played by actors Deborah Michal, Shaun Rose, and Jasun Jabbar jokingly come to Koko’s aide once she realizes that her southern, Black upbringing does not equate to authentic Blackness. Even if Koko does have a Black pop culture obsession, and can probably beat anyone on her campus in spades, she is still an Asian girl and best believe her roommate (and frenemy), Joy, played by actress Assata Williams, will not let her forget it.

In a well-written show filled with funny and teachable moments, Koko’s tight-knit circle becomes the perfect space for her to explore the delicate line between appreciation and appropriation.

Speaking of appreciation, the HBCU pride translates beautifully both on and off the screen. Behind the camera, Damn Write Originals features a creative collective of mostly HBCU attendees ranging from Savannah State University, FAMU, Howard, Bowie, Clark Atlanta University and more.

“Similar to what Beyonce said in her Homecoming Film, Damn Write Originals has created a safe space where no one is marginalized and we get to create and provide opportunities for people of color to see themselves,” said Script Supervisor Kiara Barnes, “After seeing this digital series, people will fall in love with the story then immediately find an HBCU to attend.”

In tandem with its newest development deal, Southern Fried Rice aims to find a network home by 2020.

Send good vibes and stay tuned!

Follow Damn Write Originals on IG: @DamnWriteOriginals and Twitter: @DWOriginals

Nekala Rosetta

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Writer. Little Flower. Storyteller.