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Still from 'Black Earth Rising' trailer via YouTube.

HBO to Co-Produce Michaela Coel's Upcoming Series About Dating and Sexual Consent

The showrunner's latest, "January 22," is described as "fearless, frank and provocative."

HBO has signed on to co-produce an upcoming series by Michaela Coel about contemporary dating life and sexual consent, Deadline reports.

The show titled January 22nd was first announced via the BBC last August. It was written by and will star Coel as the protagonist Arabella Essiedu, a "self-assured, care-free Londoner with a group of great friends, a holiday fling turned aspirational boyfriend in Italy and a burgeoning writing career. But when she is spiked with a date-rape drug, every element of her life and identity is called into question," as described in Deadline.


A synopsis from last year reads:

Set in London, where gratification is only an app away, the story centers on Arabella (Coel) whose raw and personal experience of consent sits at the heart of the story. Through Arabella we meet a group of fictional friends and colleagues whose sexual adventures frequently collide with a world in which new codes of sexual practice are emerging.

The show's cast, which features several young up-and-coming actors, has also recenlty been announced. The ensemble includes Weruche Opia, Paapa Essiedu, Aml Ameen, Adam James, Sarah Niles and Ann Akin, who play characters within Arabella's circle of friends. Opia, for instance, plays Terry Pratchard, her best friend, described as "a struggling actor but always hopeful her career's about to pop." While Essiedu plays Kwame Acheampong, "the best male friend to Arabella and Terry. He's an exercise class teacher and Grindr regular."

Production has begun in London and the show will premiere in 2020. "We're incredibly lucky to have pulled together such a talented cast to bring these scripts to life and I look forward to sharing this work with you all next year," said Coel.

Last year, the Chewing Gum creator, starred in the Netflix original musical Been So Long alongside Arinzé Kene.

Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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