Rosanny Zayas to Star in Netflix’s Psychological Thriller Limited Series “Echoes”

Rosanny Zayas is making (sound) waves

The Afro-Latina actress will star as a series regular in Echoes, Netflix’s psychological thriller limited series from 13 Reasons Why showrunner Brian Yorkey.

Rosanny Zayas

Zayas joins a cast that includes Tony Award winner Ali Stroker, Karen Robinson, Michelle Monaghan, Matt Bomer and Daniel Sunjata.

Created and written by Vanessa Gazy, Echoes is a mystery thriller about identical twins Leni and Gina, both portrayed by Monaghan, who share a dangerous secret. Since they were children, Leni and Gina secretly have swapped lives, culminating in a double life as adults: They share two homes, two husbands and a child, but everything in their perfectly choreographed world is thrown into disarray when one of the sisters goes missing.

Zayas is Deputy Paula Martinez. She has enjoyed her first year working in the sleepy town of Mt. Echo where the crimes are as mild as the weather. But when her new friend Leni disappears, the true character of Mt. Echo reveals itself—and she finds herself caught in the middle.

Zayas currently stars on Season 2 of Showtime’s The L Word: Generation Q. She will next be seen in Sam Esmail’s limited series Angelyne for Peacock and UCP. She previously recurred on Orange Is The New Black, Modern Persuasion, The Code and Instinct

Tanya Saracho to Make Film Directorial Debut with Adaptation of Her Off Broadway Play “Mala Hierba”

Tanya Saracho is in the (bad) weeds…

The Mexican-American actress, playwright, dramaturge, screenwriter and Vida creator is bringing her 2014 Off Broadway play Mala Hierba to the big screen, and she’ll be directing the film adaptation of her acclaimed project.

Tanya Saracho

In her film directorial debut, Saracho has teamed up with Anonymous Content to adapt the Texas border town set drama.

The film version of Mala Hierba  will be produced by AC Studios, with Dawn Olmstead, David Levine, and Whitney Dibo overseeing the project for outfit.

Former Vida EP Stephanie Langhoff, and Christine Davila, head of development and production at Saracho’s Ojala Productions, will serve as producers on Mala Hierba.

Originally opening at Second Stage Uptown nearly six years ago, the play unravels the coiffured life of a Lone Star State trophy wife who begins to see the cracks in her life of wealth and privilege as her first and perhaps true love reappears. The possibility of a renewed life together for the two women forces the Liliana character to make a searing decision about what she wants and who she is.

The stage production of Mala Hierba was directed by Jerry Ruiz and starred Marta Milans, Sandra Marquez, and Ana Nogueira in the primary roles.

The union with Anonymous comes just over a couple of weeks after the active Saracho launched the Ojalá Ignition Lab in conjunction with UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group.

Part of the acclaimed playwright and filmmaker’s 2020 inked development deal with the studio, the incubator program for Latinx voices will provide five writers and their own proposed projects with mentoring from experienced showrunners and EPs, including self-described “den mother” Saracho and an extended network to draw on for the future.

Since Vida, which won a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comedy Series, finished its three-season stint on Starz in May 2020, Saracho stayed in Britain during the pandemic to work with musician and Lovesick actor Johnny Flynn for an upcoming project.

Tanya Saracho Teams Up with UCP to Launch Writers Incubator Program ‘Ojalá Ignition Lab’

Tanya Saracho is turning the ignition on Latinx representation…

Nearly a year after signing a development deal with UCP, the Mexican American screenwriter and television creator and the studio have launched the Ojalá Ignition Lab.

Tanya Saracho

Under the umbrella of Saracho’s deal, the 26-week long incubator program will provide five writers and their own proposed projects with mentoring from experienced showrunners and executive producers, including self-described “den mother” Saracho and an extended network to draw on for the future.

The aim of the fully funded program is to foster a pilot script to completion with a commission by UCP at the end.

Applications for the program can be submitted until July 19. Those interested should submit a one-page television pilot proposal, as well as an existing example of their writing. Find more information here.

“You know, I keep starting things because there’s a need,” Saracho told Deadline of the lab, as well as the Writers’ Access Support Staff Training Program she helped kick off in March with former One Day at a Time EP Mike Royce and Day of the Deads Liz Hsiao Lan Alper, along with the WGA. “This is a legit writing lab and I’m so thrilled. I don’t know if there’s something like this out there — it’s a nurturing writers’ group.”

“We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Tanya on her Ojalá Ignition Lab. She has always told diverse and inclusive stories, and this is a continuation of her inspiring work,” UCP president Beatrice Springborn said. “UCP is thrilled and honored to collaborate with these five fellows on their projects.”

“During Vida, those three seasons, having and all-Latin writers room, I realized that from the conversations in there that they had never been in a situation like that where they didn’t have to be an ambassador or had to defend their culture, their ethnicity, their race,” Saracho said of the origin of the Ojalá Ignition Lab. “In other writers’ rooms they might have had to do that, and there was something so beautiful about that because we could just create the story. We didn’t have to also wear the shield of our culture and have to figure out how to navigate that in maybe a writers room that’s more dominant culture.”

“So, that gave me the idea for this, to be a writers’ group that where there’s that cultural safety, cultural shorthand, and I don’t just mean Spanish because not every Latine speaks Spanish,” the EP added. “It’s like when you see yourself represented after not being, you know, after never seeing yourself represented. It’s just an alchemy like of safety that you can build and we haven’t historically as Latines been building that way because we’re not enough of us in this industry to be surrounded by the same.”

Since Vida, which won a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comedy Series, ended its run on Starz in May 2020, Saracho spent time in the UK during the pandemic collaborating with musician and Lovesick actor Johnny Flynn for an upcoming project, among other work.

But as she made clear Monday, Ojalá Ignition Lab has long been a top parallel priority for the macro mode of her career.

“A lot of these fellowships are just listings on name,” she said. “You’re listed on a list, and it’s amplified, or there’s an honorarium. This is the thing that’s so exciting about this project; this is legitimate development commission, like a very well-funded development commission, and we are working through the WGA to do all that that entails.”

“And so, it’s really exciting because that means we are valued and this is literal value because this is an actual commission,” Saracho said. “So, I’m excited for these five fellows to feel seen and value-supported and with money.”

Genesis Rodriguez to Star on Season Three of Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy”

Genesis Rodriguez is flying high

The 33-year-old Cuban-Venezuelan actress has joined the cast of Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy.

Genesis Rodriguez

The end of the second season ofthe series left viewers with the introduction of an alternate 2019, which included a very alive Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) and someone who seemed to be Ben (Justin H. Min). And there were also five people — including a floating cube that dubbed themselves – the Sparrow Academy.

This new mysterious group of kids aren’t necessarily doppelgangers to the original Umbrella Academy, but they might as well be.

In addition to Rodriguez, the actors who will make up the Sparrow Academy, which was formed by Hargreeves in this alternate 2019 include Min, Justin CornwellBritne OldfordCazzie DavidJake Epstein and destined-for-greatness actor known as “Existential Dread Inducing Psykronium Cube.”

They’ll join Elliot Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Ritu Arya and Adam Godley who are set to reprise their roles. Production on the 10-episode third season is set to begin in February in Toronto.

The Umbrella Academy is created for television by Steve Blackman who is showrunner and serves as executive producer alongside Jeff F. King, Keith Goldberg, Mike Richardson and Jesse McKeown. Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, who created the original comic of which The Umbrella Academy is based, are co-executive producers. The series is produced by UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group, for Netflix.

The Sparrow Academy

Here are the full character descriptions for the Sparrow Academy characters:

JUSTIN CORNWELL will play MARCUS, Sparrow #1. A charming, chiseled, colossus. Honest, virtuous, and demanding, Marcus keeps the family together. Graceful but lethal, calculated but compassionate, he is as smart as he is strong. Marcus is disciplined, rational and in control. He oozes confidence and leadership without ever having to raise his
voice.

JUSTIN H. MIN will play BEN, Sparrow #2. This is not the sweet Ben we know and love. This Ben is a Machiavellian tactician, wrapped up in a pretty boy body with a rumbling inner-squid. Vicious, pragmatic, and hyper-vigilant— Ben is determined to gain his status as the leader at all costs.

BRITNE OLDFORD will play FEI, Sparrow #3. Fei sees the world in a special way. She comes across as a misanthrope who would rather be alone than spend even a second with you. But truth be told, Fei wishes she had a friend. Most of the time, Fei is the smartest person in the room and willing to work things out. But if you cross her there’s no looking back because Fei won’t stop until the job is done.

JAKE EPSTEIN will play ALPHONSO, Sparrow #4. Years of crime-fighting have left his face and body with countless visual reminders of his battles. To compensate, Alphonso is armed with a caustic and biting sense of humor. The only thing he likes better than verbally battering anyone foolish enough to get in his face, is a good pizza and a six-pack of beer.

GENESIS RODRIGUEZ will play SLOANE, Sparrow #5. A romantic and a dreamer who feels a higher cosmic calling leaving her eager to see the world and experience a life beyond her upbringing. But obligations to her family keep Sloane tethered to the Academy, as does her fear of crossing the family line. But Sloane has plans… and one day she might just be brave enough to act on them.

CAZZIE DAVID will play JAYME, Sparrow #6. Jayme is a loner hidden under a hoodie. She doesn’t say much because she doesn’t have to. Jayme has a fear-inducing snarl. Catch a glimpse of it, and you’ll run across the street to avoid what follows. Smart and sharp as a knife, she spends most of her time hanging with Alphonso, her only friend.

EXISTENTIAL DREAD INDUCING PSYKRONIUM CUBE will play CHRISTOPHER, Sparrow #7. Christopher is a telekinetic cube of unknown origin. He can turn the room freezing cold and induce paralyzing fear. He acts as the Sparrows’ consulted oracle who hands out incredible advice and serves as the family mediator. Trustworthy, loyal, and is treated by the Sparrows like any other sibling, Christopher is a force to be reckoned with.

Rodriguez’s previous credits include The Fugitive and Big Hero 6.

Peacock to Launch “Punky Brewster” Reboot, Starring Freddie Prinze Jr., Next Month

Things are brew(ster)ing for Freddie Prinze, Jr.

Peacock has announced the premiere date for its next continuation of a beloved classic sitcom, Punky Brewster, starring the 44-year-old part-Puerto Rican actor.

Freddie Prinze, Jr., Punky Brewster

The Punky Brewster reboot will premiere on February 25 on the streamer.

All 10 episodes of the series will drop at once, following Punky (Soleil Moon Frye). Once a bright young girl being raised by a foster dad in the 1980s series, Punky is now a single mother of three trying to get her life bak on track.

In the new series, Punky will meet Izzy (Quinn Copeland), a girl in the foster system who reminds her of her younger self. Cherie Johnson reprises her role as Punky’s best friend Cherie, and the series also stars Prinze Jr. as Travis, Punky’s ex-husband; Noah Cottrell as Diego; Oliver De Los Santos as Daniel, and Lauren Lindsey Donzis as Hannah.

Punky Brewster hails from UCP and Universal Television, divisions of Universal Studio Group. It is written and executive produced by Steve and Jim Armogida.

The original Punky Brewster, which aired for four seasons between 1984 and 1988, is available to stream on Peacock already.

Carlos Portugal Developing Thriller Drama “Heirs” for NBC

Carlos Portugal is television’s heir(s) apparent…

NBC has put in development Heirs, a thriller drama from the Daytime Emmy-nominated Latino television writer, director and producer, Davis Entertainment and Universal Television.

Carlos Portugal

Written by Portugal, Heirs is set in Miami Beach’s exclusive Star Island. It revolves around the heirs of a Latin American ex-dictator who face an unexpected dilemma when a young girl is kidnapped from their home on the night of their own daughter’s lavish quinceañera.

Portugal executive produces with Davis Entertainment’s John Davis, Jordan Davis and John Fox. Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, is the studio.

Portugal is also developing his original scripted drama Miss-ng at HBO Max with Macro/UCP, as well as a feature film musical entitled El Beso at Netflix with Lucky Chap and Screen Arcade producing. El Beso is based on the romantic Mexican urban legend around Guanajuato, Mexico’s famous ‘Alley of the Kiss’.

Portugal previously co-created the Hulu series East Los High, on which he also served as a director and executive producer. The show, which earned him a Daytime Emmy nod, was one of Hulu’s first original series and ran for four seasons.

His other credits include Meet the Browns, House of Payne and the feature film East Side Story

Tanya Saracho Launches Her Own Production Company, Ojalá Productions

Tanya Saracho is launching her own production company…

The Mexican actress, playwright and screenwriter, the mastermind behind Starz’s acclaimed series Vida, has launched Ojalá Productions, her newly created production company.

Tanya Saracho

Sarachohas hired a former executive from Warner Bros.’ content studio Stage 13, Christine Dávila, to help her run it.

Dávila has been hired as Head of Development and Production.

The hire comes a little more than three months after Saracho inked a wide-ranging development deal with UCP that also includes the creation of a lab and incubator program for Latinx voices by the activist former playwright and showrunner.

“It is a dream come true to be able to bring such a talented, energetic and accomplished Latina to help me kick off Ojalá,” Saracho told Deadline from the UK. “With Christine’s impeccable taste, undeniable intellect and boundless spirit, the possibilities are endless for us.”

“I’m grateful and truly invigorated to work with such an undeniable voice as Tanya’s,” Dávila said of the producer-writer. ‘Vidawas a game changer and there is a lot more where that came from. She is intentional and unapologetic, and committed to supporting Latinx talent in all aspects of the industry and in the most inclusive way.”

Besides the work the new company will do and Saracho’s participation in the recently launched Untitled Latinx Project group, Ojalá is a supportive amplifier all its own. Roughly translating to “God willing” and brought to Spain by the Moors, Ojalá is one of former playwright Saracho’s favorite words – which makes perfect sense for a new shingle.

It also dives into Dávila’s strengths not only as a creative executive at Stage 13 most recently, but also in her previous involvement as a member of the programming teams at the Sundance Film Festival, the LA Film Festival and the Morelia International Film Festival.

Directly prior to joining the WB pod and overseeing the likes of the Emmy-wining It’s Bruno!, Dávila laid the foundation for the stateside division of the moveable feast that is Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal’s Ambulante documentary festival.

Since the acclaimed Vidaended its three-season run on Starz this spring, Saracho put on a mask and gloves for protection against COVID-19 and leapt over the Atlantic for a professional sojourn. She’s presently in locked-down London working with musician and Stardust star Johnny Flynn on the Love Story pilot for UCP.

The concept is that the UCP show would focus on a single potentially heartbreaking tale a season, with the first installment centering on longtime Latinx friends who become entangled with the same musician.

Netflix Orders Third Season of David Castañeda’s “The Umbrella Academy”

David Castañeda will be spending more time at the Academy…

Netflix has ordered a third season of one of its most popular series, The Umbrella Academy, starring the 31-year-old Mexican American actor.

David Castañeda The Umbrella Academy

Production on the 10-episode third season will begin in February in Toronto.

In addition to Castañeda, series-regular cast members set to return, reprising their roles, include Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Justin H. Min, Ritu Arya, and Colm Feore. Also coming back is executive producer/showrunner Steve Blackman.

The UCP-produced The Umbrella Academy, a live-action superhero series based on the Dark Horse Comics created and written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá, was a breakout when it launched last year, ranking as the third-most watched Netflix series for 2019. Released on July 31, Season 2 led Nielsen’s first Streaming Top 10.

In Season 2, Five is proven right in warning his family that using his powers to escape from Vanya’s 2019 apocalypse was risky. The time jump scatters the siblings in time in and around Dallas. Some, having been stuck in the past for years, have built lives and moved on, certain they’re the only ones who survived. Five is the last to land, smack dab in the middle of a nuclear doomsday, which turns out is a result of the group’s disruption of the timeline. Now the Umbrella Academy must find a way to reunite, figure out what caused doomsday, put a stop to it, and return to the present timeline to stop that other apocalypse. All while being hunted by a trio of ruthless Swedish assassins.

Tanya Saracho Signs Development Deal with UCP

Things are developing nicely for Tanya Saracho

The Mexican screenwriterand Vida creator has signed a development deal with UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group.

Tanya Saracho

As part of the deal, Saracho will develop and create original content for television, as well as podcasts via the studio’s UCP Audio extension. She’ll also establish a lab and incubator program for Latinx voices.

“To say that I’m immensely enthusiastic about this union is not enough. This partnership with UCP is a vital opportunity to keep amplifying the voices and stories that matter to me – those brown, queer narratives which have been missing from the landscape, and which are so important to tell,” said Saracho.

 “I’m also elated and looking forward to establishing a lab and incubator program aimed to nurture, amplify and empower intersectional Latinx voices,” Saracho added. “And on a personal level, it is greatly gratifying to find a home where I already feel so seen and supported.”

Saracho most recently served as creator, showrunner, and executive producer of Starz’s critically-acclaimed Vida, which aired its third and final season this spring. The series featured all Latinx directors in season one, and all Latina directors in seasons two and three, including Saracho, who made her television directorial debut last year. The series had an all-Latinx writers room for seasons one and two, and in season three, the room was composed of all Latina writers.

Vida won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comedy Series and was also honored by the National Hispanic Media Coalition with the 2019 Impact Award. The series won the Audience Award at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival and made its season two premiere as an Official Selection of the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.

“Tanya came on the scene like a comet with such a strong point of view and a drive to tell culturally diverse stories that push boundaries and open our imaginations. Oh, the places we will go with Tanya’s deep curiosity, experience, commitment, enthusiasm, joy and fervor to tell the diverse stories we haven’t explored on television yet. We are such fans of her work on Vida and are thrilled to partner with her,” said Dawn Olmstead, president, UCP.

“One of our goals at Universal Studio Group is to provide access through on the job training and opportunities to empower the next generation of culturally diverse storytellers. Tanya’s program fully embodies that intention and we look forward to supporting her as she mentors aspiring Latinx writers,” said Bonnie Hammer, chairman, Universal Studio Group. “This is the first of many programs we will be backing across our three studios.”

Saracho was recently honored by the LGBTQ California Legislative Caucus as their 2020 Pride Month Honoree. She received the Rising Star Award at the Outfest Legacy Awards, and was awarded the New Voice Award by Final Draft.

She’s the founder of Teatro Luna, the first all-Latina theatre company in the country, as well as the founder of ALTA (Alliance of Latino Theatre Artists).

Saracho’s other television writing/producing credits include Devious Maids, Looking and How to Get Away with Murder.

Netflix to Premiere Second Season of David Castañeda’s “The Umbrella Academy in July

David Castañeda is headed back to the Academy in July…

Netflix has announced that the second season of The Umbrella Academy, starring the 30-year-old Mexican-Americn actor, will premiere on Friday, July 31. 

David Castañeda The Umbrella Academy

Based on the Dark Horse Comics created and written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel BáThe Umbrella Academy stars Castañeda, who portrays Diego Hargreeves, aka The Kraken, Ellen PageTom HopperEmmy Raver-LampmanRobert SheehanAidan Gallagher, and Justin H. Min as  the titular group of unlikely heroes. 

In The Umbrella Academy, on the same day in 1989, 43 infants inexplicably are born to random, unconnected women who showed no signs of pregnancy the day before. Seven are adopted by a billionaire who creates The Umbrella Academy and prepares his “children” to save the world. In the first season, we saw the six surviving members reunite when they learned of the passing of their father. Together, they worked to solve the mystery surrounding his death but the estranged family began to unravel due to their divergent personalities, abilities and a global apocalypse.

Ritu AryaMarin Ireland and Yusuf Gatewood have joined the 10-episode sophomore season.

The Umbrella Academy is produced by UCP (Universal Content Productions) for Netflix.

The first season of The Umbrella Academy dropped on February 15, 2019 and was ranked third on the list of Netflix’s most popular series releases of 2019. It was one of only three series to crack Netflix’s overall Top 10 list of its most popular 2019 releases.