Amazon has officially ordered an 11-episode TV series based on Colson Whitehead's No. 1 New York Times bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Underground Railroad—and it will be directed by Barry Jenkins.
The novel chronicles a young slave named Cora who escapes a Georgia plantation and makes her way to freedom. Praised for blending history with imaginative storytelling, the book received rave reviews from critics like Ron Charles of The Washington Post, who praised it for the way it "reanimates the slave narrative, disrupts our settled sense of the past and stretches the ligaments of history right into our own era."
Last year, Jenkins told Vulture how excited he was to tell Cora's story. "It’s such an amazing character, and I feel like right now my obsession is in translating the interiority of these characters," Jenkins said. "Cora has a very rich interior life because she lives in a town where she can’t express herself externally. That’s my bread and butter. And I just want to dig deep and dig down and really bring out the interior life of that character in the way an audience can feel it."
Fresh off the success of his Oscar-winning 2016 film Moonlight, Jenkins looks to keep his hot streak alive with the series.
"It’s an absolute gift to have Barry Jenkins commit to directing all the episodes for our upcoming limited series The Underground Railroad," Amazon Studios' Jennifer Salke told Deadline. "Barry’s eye for character and sustained exhilarating, emotional storytelling style ensures that this project is in the right hands. We can’t wait to get started and bring this significant story to our Prime Video audience."
In a press release, Jenkins added, "Working with Amazon and a wonderful group of screenwriters to develop Colson’s novel into a limited series has been an extremely rewarding experience. Translating his singular voice into a cohesive and equally singular visual language is a task I very much look forward to."