Jeremy O. Harris (Slave Play) and Aziza Barnes (BLKS) have signed on as writers and executive producers on the upcoming HBO series The Vanishing Half, as reported by Deadline. Actress Issa Rae (Insecure) has also signed on to executive produce with her Hoorae production company alongside Stephanie Allain’s (Dear White People) production company Homegrown Pictures.
HBO’s upcoming adaptation is based on the novel of the same name written by Brit Bennett (The Mothers). Exploring issues of race, class, and family, Bennett’s novel is told through the eyes of twin sisters and spans from the 1950s through the 1990s. In the official synopsis for The Vanishing Half on Amazon, it states: “The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?”
Bennett’s novel was an immediate number one bestseller on The New York Times Bestsellers list when it was released in June 2020 and has remained within the top ten since. HBO acquired the rights for the series after a stiff competition in 2020. Barnes released a statement picked up by Deadline expressing excitement on coming aboard the project as a writer and executive producer, saying: “Reading The Vanishing Half was and is an exacting call to my family’s history– one of passing for white, legends so tall as to be myths, and wounds that last several generations…Beyond feeling compelled to adapt this world that I knew viscerally, to then be able to craft its coming to life with a dear friend, chosen family, is a gift beyond measure. Working with Jeremy is a delight and dedication to making art in the medium of television that grips and moves me, moves us both. I’m hype.”
Harris also released a statement discussing his love of Bennett’s novel and the road ahead which was picked up by Deadline: “One of the few highlights of 2020 was the evening I spent on my birthday curled on my couch screaming at Stella Vignes, ‘HOW COULD YOU’ so loudly my neighbor thought something was wrong…To know that I get the privilege to collaborate with Brit and one of my favorite playwrights Aziza in translating that moment to millions around the world is an honor. In many ways knowing that my “twin” in this journey gets to be a playwright with whom I shared a debut season and a debut director makes this all the more special because the secret language of siblings seems to already pass between us throughout this process.”