Akala’s acclaimed memoir Natives (Two Roads) will be developed into a documentary series for the BBC.
The BBC commissioned a new documentary series from Akala, a BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip-hop artist and entrepreneur, with the working title of “Akala: Race, Class and Empire”.
Inspired by his book, Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire, the series will combine the story of Akala’s own personal journey of self-discovery with an immersive exploration of issues of race, class and empire and how they affect the lives of young people today.
Akala’s interviews, encounters and insight will reveal how race, class and power dynamics continue to shape social policy and life opportunities in the UK. The BBC said: “Akala will meet those at the centre of these experiences and will question experts, policy makers and opinion formers, and will also meet those who are bucking the trend and making positive changes.”
The series was commissioned by Fiona Campbell, controller at BBC Three, and Clare Sillery, head of commissioning, documentaries, history and religion. It is being produced by Akala’s production company Immovable and long-time producing partner Greenacre Films. The executive producers are Chanelle Newman of Immovable Limited with Nadine Marsh-Edwards and Amanda Jenks of Greenacre Films. The BBC commissioning editor is Carl Callam.
Akala said: “When I was writing Natives, I wanted to try and show how race, class and power dynamics impact the lives of everyday people—these issues affect us all in complicated and chaotic ways, which is why I wanted to contextualise my life and my experiences with the history of Britain and the British Empire that shapes the world we live in today. My ambition is to do something similar with this TV series. This is going to be a bit of an epic journey for me, exploring this and fresh ideas further with audiences globally.”
Campbell said: “This landmark series promises to dispel myths and common misconceptions around race, class and empire in a digestible manner. Akala is a huge talent and a proven success in a multitude of areas and I couldn’t be happier that we will be bringing this vital series to the BBC Three audience.”
Marsh-Edwards, producer at Greenacre Films, described the series as “a dream project for us”. She added: “In Natives, Akala wrote with such insight and eloquence about the pervasive impact of race, class and power dynamics on the lives of everyday British people, so we are delighted to be partnering with him and with Immovable on what we believe will be a landmark series."
As well as his music and writing, Akala is also co-founder of The Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company. He has written for the Guardian, Huffington Post, GQ and the Independent, delivered keynotes for Oxford Union and TEDx, and led innovative projects in the arts, education and music sectors across the many countries across the world.
Natives was longlisted for the Jhalak Prize and was followed by his debut YA novel, The Dark Lady (Hodder Children’s Books), in April 2021.