By Sydney Bucksbaum
January 26, 2021 at 06:00 PM EST
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Nancy Drew (2019 TV series)

Nancy Drew has found her Tom Swift.

EW has learned that Tian Richards has landed the starring role for the Nancy Drew potential spin-off Tom Swift, based on the classic book series of the same name. The actor will debut in episode 15 this season as the titular Black, gay, billionaire inventor and will continue playing the role if the character's solo spin-off series, currently in development at the CW, is greenlit.

Nancy Drew showrunners Melinda Hsu Taylor and Noga Landau previously revealed to EW that Tom will crash into one of Nancy's (Kennedy McMann) investigations in season 2 episode 15, when Nancy interprets an event as supernatural and Tom believes it to be cosmically paranormal. And if Tom Swift goes to series, the new show will follow Tom as he's thrust into a world of sci-fi conspiracy and unexplained phenomena after the shocking disappearance of his father. He goes on a road trip in a quest to unravel the truth, leaving behind the comforts of his usual moneyed lifestyle, all while fighting to stay one step ahead of an Illuminati-scale group hell-bent on stopping him. Tom's missions will require his genius and flair for innovation guided by love, romance, friendship and the mysteries of the universe yet-unsolved. 

Credit: SERGIO GARCIA

"We're excited about bringing a story that has both sci-fi but also Blackness, and joy, and pride, and love, and romance," Landau tells EW of the potential spin-off. "Something that I'm personally most excited about with Tom Swift is that it's going to be an epic cosmic romance that positions a queer Black man right in the middle of it as the object of desire and as the alpha male of the story. That's just so important to put on screen right now."

"In addition to that, what we're hoping in success, if we should be so lucky to get a series order, is that the other person in that triangle is going to be a man of trans experience, and his love story and his being the object of desire for a young woman who's in the Swift squad," Hsu Taylor adds. "That is going to be another really great thing to explore and for people to feel like, 'Oh, that's me.' We want to make it something that feels like it's both a world that we haven't seen before, but also one that we can relate to no matter what your background is and that we could aspire to also no matter what your background is or whatever your particular preferences are. It's just the common humanity under all of the cosmic wonder."

Hsu Taylor reveals that Tom is going to be facing a lot of "fish out of water" experiences both on Nancy Drew and his own series. "What he usually does to solve these things is use his inventions and his technology and his urbane sophistication and a lot of those things don't work against ghosts," she says. "He has to humble himself a little bit, buddy up with Nancy in a very fun way, and learn what he learns from our people."

And the showrunners tease that Tom's friendship with Nick (Tunji Kasim) is one they're having the most fun exploring. "We get to now explore what it is to be Nick in this show as a Black man," Hsu Taylor says. "Tom Swift arrives and he's Black and he's gay and he's awesome and the first time he locks eyes with Nick, he totally is like, 'What are you doing here?' In a very funny way, in a very instantly bonding way. And there's a whole storyline about it."

Richards is best known for playing Marcus in Netflix's Dumplin', and was most recently seen in Burden opposite Forest Whitaker, which was an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival. His other credits include Being Mary Jane, The Neighborhood, 24: Legacy, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and A Bad Mom's Christmas.

Like Nancy Drew, Tom Swift comes from Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage's Fake Empire and is produced through CBS Studios in an effort to create an expanded "Drew-niverse" on the CW. Hsu Taylor and Landau co-created the new project with Cameron Johnson (Empire), and will write and executive produce. Schwartz, Savage, and Lis Rowinski will also serve as executive producers.  

Nancy Drew airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on the CW.

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Nancy Drew (2019 TV series)

The CW updates the iconic teen sleuth for 2019, making Nancy (Kenney McMann) flawed and real in this supernatural thriller.

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