ESPN’s most spirited voice is about to take his talents to the big screen. Stephen A. Smith is working on a project to highlight some of our finest educational institutes.
As spotted on Deadline Stephen A. Smith’s new production venture Mr. SAS Productions, which currently produces Stephen A’s World and co-produces Why Not Us? for ESPN+, has struck a deal for its next big project — a documentary series celebrating and highlighting the importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in American Society. The series will be produced in partnership with Propagate, the production company behind Hulu’s Hillary, and Confluential Films, the production company behind Black Love on OWN.
Black Excellence will uncover the untold story of HBCUs’ undeniable impact across American politics, business, culture, sports and entertainment. With a mix of original interviews, archival footage and media, the series will look at the prominent figures such as Vice President Kamala Harris, Senator Raphael Warnock, Stacey Abrams, Oprah, Spike Lee, Taraji P. Henson and many more who attended HBCUs.
Depicting how their experiences at HBCUs shaped their careers, the series will spotlight moments in culture where these colleges set the tone from Beyonce’s Homecoming to Ohio State Football Marching Band presentations, and will highlight HBCUs representation in 2020’s historic elections. In addition, the series will examine the recent uptick in donations and attention on HBCUs from celebrities such as Michael B. Jordan, Deion Sanders, Chris Paul and MacKenzie Scott. Episodes will seek to explain why an increasing number of public figures have been compelled to make such powerful commitments and how their donations will impact these institutions.
“Black Excellence is not just some statement that’s thrown out and about. It has meaning. It has substance. Because it’s existed forever, yet has been denied or minimized time and time again. Under no circumstances is this more evident than when it pertains to HBCUs. Everywhere you turn — Athletics, Entertainment, Politics, Culture, Corporate America — there’s excellence oozing from the African-American community, despite the odds. And more often than not, there’s a connection to HBCUs along the way. Yet, somehow, we don’t hear enough about it. Quite Frankly, that needs to change,” said Smith in a statement to Deadline.
Codie Elaine Oliver, who is a 3rd generation Howard University alumna, the co-creator and director of Black Love on OWN (currently in its 5th season) will helm Black Excellence in her first directorial effort beyond the critically acclaimed series. “Without HBCUs, I would not be who I am – which is a person whose grandmother attended Wiley College and grandfather attended Howard University, whose mother and father met at Howard University and became a lawyer and a doctor, respectively,” said Oliver in a statement.
Black Excellence is slated to premiere in 2022.