Lena Waithe, who made Emmys history with her Master of None win this year, is heading back home for The Chi, a new series she wrote and produced for Showtime. The full-length trailer, which dropped on Thursday, follows various characters — from rapper Common, Moonlight‘s Alex Hibbert, and Kong: Skull Island‘s Jason Mitchell, among others — as they face the daily grind of Chicago, where Waithe was born.
“I never thought I’d write about the city, but I just got to a place in my life where I think it was so misunderstood,” she told EW of The Chi. “It’s a different side of my voice, about being black and human and trying to survive and have a dream. It’s raw. It’s real. I’m not sugar-coating. It’s not, ‘Let’s show black people in Chicago in a positive light.’ It’s, ‘I want to show people in a human light.’”
Waithe became the first African-American woman to win best writing in a comedy at the Emmys with her “Thanksgiving” episode of Master of None, a win she shared with series creator Aziz Ansari. She’s now ready to tell a different story.
The Chi is described as “a timely coming-of-age” tale about a group of people in the South Side of Chicago “bonded by the need for connection and redemption.”
Pre-teen Kevin (Hibbert) must embrace the normal rites of his childhood; dreamer Brandon (Mitchell) makes a leap of faith to lead a fruitful life with his girlfriend, Jerrika (The Following‘s Tiffany Boone); Emmett (Sleight‘s Jacob Latimore), guided by his mother, Jada (The Get Down‘s Yolonda Ross), is described as a “carefree teen thrust into complex responsibility”; and drifter Ronnie (Queen of Katwe‘s Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine) struggles with his desire to love and be loved.
Showtime also revealed a colorful new poster that, along with the trailer, brings “positive as f–k” vibes to the city.
Also featured in The Chi are Waithe, Sonja Sohn (The Wire), Jahking Guillory (Kicks), and Steven Williams (The Leftovers).
Waithe serves as executive producer with Common, showrunner Elwood Reid, Aaron Kaplan, Derek Dudley, Shelby Stone, and Dope director Rick Famuyiwa — the latter of which helmed the premiere episode.
The Chi premieres on Showtime Sunday, Jan. 7 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. See the new trailer and poster above.