Credit: Benedicte Desrus/USA Network

TV’s newest drug boss is revving up for her big debut.

EW can exclusively reveal that USA’s new narco saga, Queen of the South, will premiere on Tuesday, June 21.

The border drama – an adaptation of Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s best-selling novel La Reina del Sur – features Alice Braga (I Am Legend) as Teresa Mendoza, a Mexican money changer who eventually rises to become a cutthroat drug cartel leader.

“She’s a very special character and is someone very strong in the sense of being a smart woman,” says Braga of the part. “She fights to survive.”

Credit: USA Networks

Also starring Veronica Falcón (Besos de Azúcar), Justina Machado (Six Feet Under), Peter Gadiot (Tut), Hemky Madera (Weeds), Gerardo Taracena (Apocalypto), Joaquim de Almeida (Our Brand is Crisis), and Jon Ecker (Narcos), the USA series is executive produced by David T. Friendly (Little Miss Sunshine).

“No other show really features a female protagonist like this, and I think it gives us a very special prism into the world,” says Friendly of the feisty, female-lead series. “Teresa is very ready to play with the boys.”

The series comes five years after La Reina del Sur – a Spanish-language telenovela also based on Pérez-Reverte’s story – raked in unprecedented ratings for USA’s sister network Telemundo. But Queen of the South isn’t a word-for-word reboot: Instead, the upcoming series features a slightly younger heroine than the character in the original show, and unfolds across the US-Mexico border, rather than in Europe. USA’s series also features a different pace when it comes to the plot, stretching out across weekly, one-hour episodes rather than the nightly telenovela format implemented in La Reina del Sur.

“Our show is not a telenovela,” emphasizes Friendly. “It’s a one-hour American drama, with a slightly deeper exploration of character.”

Queen of the South premieres Tuesday, June 21 at 10/9c on USA.

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Queen of the South
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