Starz has just made a big bet on the future of Latino representation with the announcement of two new Latina-centric series currently in development for the premium cable stalwart. Adding to an original programming lineup that currently features a handful of buzz-worthy dramas like Power and Black Sails, Starz will be developing an adaptation of Alisa Valdes’ 2003 best-seller The Dirty Girls Social Club along with an English-language remake of the 2010 Mexican telenovela, Teresa.
With the The Dirty Girls Social Club, Starz has finally landed the holy grail of so called “Chica Lit” after multiple Hollywood studios were unable to get the project off the ground. Hailed as a pioneering work of Latina popular fiction, the novel showcases the strong bonds of a diverse group of hardworking professional Latinas in Boston. Despite the book’s international success, author Alisa Valdes had previously been very vocal about the failure of major studios to appreciate the stereotype-shattering representation of Latina women in her work. Ligiah Villalobos (writer of Bajo la misma luna and Go, Diego! Go!) will serve as showrunner.
At one point the New Mexico native even went so far as to launch a crowdfunding campaign to direct a film adaptation herself, citing horror stories from studios execs unable to grasp the concept of Afro-Latinos, or pushing for the addition of inmate boyfriends. So far, the Valdes has expressed great enthusiasm about working with Starz, and in addition to signing on as Executive Producer she will work as a paid consultant on each episode.
The English-language remake of Teresa will actually be the fourth time the novela has been brought to the small screen, including Mexico’s original 1959 broadcast. Televisa’s hit 2010 version brought super-estrella Angelique Boyer her first leading role after appearing on a number of hit series, and Televisa USA will be developing the series along with Starz and Lionsgate. The classic story of a humble woman who uses her sexuality to manipulate her way up the social ladder is on point for Televisa’s retrograde misogynistic worldview, but we’ll have to see how East Los High creator Carlos Portugal handles the material as showrunner.
Given the proven track record of both titles, Starz isn’t exactly going out on a limb with either series, but coupled with their announcement of the Mississippi strip club drama Pussy Valley, it does speak to a concerted push toward diverse content for the 22-year-old network. Plus, the best part is yet to come: stay tuned for casting announcements.