VIS Social Impact, the cause-driven production division of Paramount’s international studio VIS, has signed a first-look deal with South African actor Thuso Mbedu (The Underground Railroad).
The pact is the studio’s inaugural first-look deal and will see Mbedu create, develop and produce exclusive scripted and documentary programming focused on equity, climate and health for streamer Paramount+ outside the US.
Mbedu is set to play the lead in Sony’s The Woman King opposite Viola Davis later this year and recently starred as Cora in Barry Jenkins’ Prime Video series The Underground Railroad.
VIS Social Impact launched in October 2021 as part of a global initiative from Paramount that aims to counteract racism, bias, stereotypes and hate on- and off-screen, partly by systemically transforming the creative supply chain.
VIS was set up in 2018 and produces content for Paramount brands and platforms, including Paramount+, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, Channel 5, Network 10, Telefe and Chilevisión, as well as for third parties.
In addition to VIS Social Impact, the studio includes Ananey and Porta Dos Fundos and covers all genres, from kids, young adult, live action and animation to soap operas, dramas, shortform and longform comedy formats and feature films.
Georgia Arnold, head of VIS Social Impact and senior VP of international social responsibility at Paramount, said the studio was developing a roster of global talent to create premium programming for Paramount+.
“Having been privileged to work with Thuso on MTV Shuga: Down South, I’ve seen her powerful creative talent first-hand. I’m in no doubt her skill and expertise will help our studio develop groundbreaking, social impact-driven content with worldwide appeal,” added Arnold.
Mbedu said: “I am excited about this first-look deal because of what it means for African creators and artists. As Africans ,we have so many unique and diverse cultures, histories and experiences that the world needs to see and hear about. And as an African woman, to get an opportunity to tell stories that will uplift, empower and shape new ways of thinking and seeing the world is absolutely amazing.”