Lena Waithe Developing Scripted Drama Series Based on ‘Hoop Dreams’

Lena Waithe and her Hillman Grad Productions company, who recently signed a multi-year deal to create content with Warner Bros., have found their first project. Waithe and Hillman Grad co-founder Rishi Rajani are developing a scripted series based on classic basketball documentary Hoop Dreams.

Steve James‘ 1994 film is widely considered one of the greatest documentaries of all time. Created over the course of five years with 250 hours of footage, it focuses on two high school students, William Gates and Arthur Agee, who dream of becoming professional basketball players.

Both Gates and Agee have reportedly signed off on this new adaptation, which will be written by Aaron Rahsaan Thomas (S.W.A.T.). James is also on board as an executive producer.

The show will similarly revolve around two Black high school basketball players with great potential to be future stars. But because of their immense talent, the school and the world around them see them as less human and more as assets only given value by their ability to play ball – another major theme in the documentary.

In a statement, Waithe explained how important Hoop Dreams was to her growing up in Chicago: Hoop Dreams was a very important documentary in my life growing up, it was right in my own backyard. I was seeing two young Black people with dreams bigger than their backyard and watching their journeys as they also struggled and tried to understand where they fit in their families.

I always knew I wanted to bring that story back because Hoop Dreams, to me, is so representative of what it means to have a dream, to be from a city that you really believe in, and you’re really proud to be from.”

The story at the center of Hoop Dreams remains relatable to everyone, especially those in the sports world. It will be interesting to see how it fits into a narrative series. It’s unclear right now whether the show is being developed for proper HBO, HBO Max, or anywhere else. Hillman Grad’s deal with Warner Bros. covers practically every possibility, but HBO seems like the best bet.


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