“I’m beyond thrilled to officially launch my production company, Viva Maude, which has been a real passion project and labour of love over the last few years,” Thompson said in a statement. “I’m elated to begin this partnership and to bring entertaining and impactful television projects to my friends and collaborators at HBO and HBO Max. Together we are committed to developing interesting and inclusive stories with inventive creators and to discover new voices and visionaries.”
As Deadline reports, Thompson's Viva Maude inked a two-year first-look deal with HBO and HBO Max. The actress is kicking off the deal by executive producing two book adaptations for Who Fears Death and The Secret Lives of Church Ladies.
Who Fears Death is an adaptation of Nnedi Okorafor’s novel of the same name, which counts HBO’s favorite scribe George R.R. Martin as another executive producer on the project. Aïda Mashaka Croal, a writer on Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, will serve as showrunner, writer, and an executive producer. The coming of age tale follows the protagonist Onyesowu, and is set in post-apocalyptic Central Africa. Okorafor’s main character “must go on a journey from self-reproach to love, but to do so she’ll have to overcome untold obstacles—defeating her hated sorcerer father and becoming the instrument of prophetic deliverance for a land of oppressed people, all the while fighting to master the terrifying powers growing inside her.”
The author celebrated the news on Twitter, saying she's "ecstatic to finally be able to announce that the amazing @TessaThompson_x will be joining the team."
Thompson's second adaptation for The Secret Lives of Church Ladies comes from the short story collection written by Deesha Philyaw, which contains nine stories that encapsulate themes of Black womanhood, sexuality, and their often contradictory relationship with the repressive nature of the church. The series, like Philyaw’s award-winning book, explores how “different generations of women characters grapple with who they want to be in the world, caught as they are between the church’s double standards and their own needs and passions.” Thompson and Philyaw will executive produce.
In a recent interview with author Roxane Gay, Thompson elaborated on the motivation behind creating her own production company, citing the importance of opening up equitable spaces for creators. With Viva Maude, Thompson told Gay she’s “thinking around the voices I invite into it, how I allow them to retain as much ownership over their work and their ideas as possible.”
“I’m really interested in trying to create a utopia,” she continued. “It’s imperative, because I’m curious about being able to give opportunity to folks that people might say are less experienced. A lot of people are batting a lot higher than their average because they just, frankly, haven’t been given the opportunity.”
Of course, Thompson’s acting days are far from over. She’s slated to return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the studio’s first LGBTQ hero, stars in and executive produced the Amazon series Sylvie’s Love, and is gearing up for the next film in the Creed franchise.