Today, MTV Entertainment Studios and the Smithsonian Channel announced that the new docuseries, One Thousand Years of Slavery, would be produced by Bassett Vance – a production company headed by power couple, Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance. The four-part series looks at the realities of slavery and how it continues to rewrite history even in the present day. As an executive producer of the project, Bassett said her production company’s primary objective is to “tell the globally comprehensive history of slavery.” She said in a news release:
“Finding the right partner and audience who share common beliefs and values was absolutely imperative as we navigate a topic that still hurts decades later. One Thousand Years of Slavery stretches the canvas beyond the 400 years we think we’ve traditionally learned about and I am thrilled to bring this storytelling to life with Smithsonian Channel.”
Bassett and Vance aren’t the only duo in Hollywood bringing important stories to the screen. Click below for a list of other Black couples that have founded successful production companies and are developing meaningful projects.
Courtney B. Vance and Angela Bassett – Bassett Vance Productions
While both of these actors have had stellar on-screen careers, they decided to take a step behind the camera and create their own production company, Bassett Vance Productions. Since its inception, they have produced the dramatic comedy United States, which is based on the novel Erasure. More recently, Bassett Vance Productions is set to produce a limited series on the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, along with One Thousand Years of Slavery.
Viola Davis and Julius Tennon – JuVee Productions
When JuVee Productions was founded in 2011 by the Emmy-winning actress Viola Davis and husband Julius Tennon, they wanted to create a platform for underrepresented voices. They have spearheaded a variety of projects in film, television, and theater. In the past decade, some of JuVee Productions credits include In A Man’s World, The Last Defense, Giving Voice, Troop Zero and Paradise.
Codie Elaine Oliver and Tommy Oliver – Confluential Content/Black Love, Inc.
Tommy and Codie Elaine Oliver came together to create Confluential Content, an entertainment production company with projects set up at HBO, Netflix, CBS, Sony, Lionsgate, OWN, and more. It is the home of Confluential Films and Black Love Productions. Some of its projects include 40 Years a Prisoner, and the series Black Love.
Barack and Michelle Obama – Higher Ground Productions
In May of 2018, former United States President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama founded the production company Higher Ground. They immediately signed a multi-year deal with Netflix in order to produce both scripted and unscripted television projects that included American Factory and Becoming. Also under their production umbrella are podcasts and educational programming for children.
David & Tamala Mann – Tilly Mann, Incorporated
Outside of appearing opposite of the Tyler Perry character Madea on stage and having their own spinoff show, Meet the Browns, David and Tamela Mann also own their own production company – Tilly Mann, Inc. Created in 2005, their company is home to film, television, and book releases such as “Against the World: Our Secrets to Love, Marriage and Family.”
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith – Overbrook Entertainment
Founded in February of 1998 by Will Smith and film producer James Lassiter, Overbrook Entertainment produced film, music, and television programs. Soon after its creation, Will’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, became a partner in the business and has been successfully producing projects since. Some of their films include I Am Legend, Ali, The Secret Life of Bees, I, Robot, Hitch, ATL, Bright, and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.
Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil – Akil Productions
Husband-wife duo Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil have created, developed, and worked on some big shows and movies including The Game, Girlfriends, Being Mary Jane, Black Lightning, Love Is, and Jumping the Broom. In 2000, one year after the two wed, they created Akil Productions.