It’s set in Harlem and it’s perfect. It’s the new comedy from Starz, “Run the World” from Leigh Davenport and Yvette Lee Bowser, and it’s perfect.
The dictionary’s definition of the word “perfect” is “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be,” and that’s exactly what this series set in modern-day Harlem is—perfect.
The world is in for a treat on Sunday, May 16 because the series will premiere worldwide across all Starz platforms including at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on Starz in the U.S. and Canada, and will also air internationally on the Starzplay premium streaming platform.
Set in Harlem, “Run the World” follows a group of intelligent, hilarious, and vibrant 30-something African-American women, all loyal best friends, who are living their best lives in Harlem despite the gentrification.
World domination is on their minds while they each navigate career lows and highs, sexy hookups, and devastating heartbreaks that cause them to re-evaluate who they are and where they are going.
I return to the word “perfect” as it relates to “Run the World.” I’ve been pondering what makes this comedy so relatable and I’ve done a very deep dive in the six episodes that were provided searching for something to criticize since I am also a critic. I found nothing. At its core, it’s an authentic and unapologetic show about enviable friendship and not only surviving, but thriving together.
“Run the World” exemplifies Starz’ #TakeTheLead initiative as the company’s comprehensive effort to deepen its existing commitment to narratives by, about, and for women and underrepresented audiences. To date, Starz leads the industry with 63.2% series leads who are people of color, 54.6% female showrunners, and a 75% female executive team.
Although I’m excited about #TakeTheLead (and I am) it is our duty to hold entertainment companies accountable for necessary and positive changes in their racist, ageist and sexist policies and it requires constant monitoring.
Now, to the perfect casting. “Run the World” stars Amber Stevens West (“The Carmichael Show”) as Whitney, a woman who colors inside the lines, not a risk-taker; Andrea Bordeaux (“NCIS: Los Angeles”) as Ella, a true romantic, who is figuring out what she truly wants both personally and professionally; Bresha Webb (“Marlon”) as Renee, the vivacious, soon-to-be-divorced diva with a seemingly thriving career; and Corbin Reid (“Valor”) as Sondi, a career academic who begins to
reevaluate both her career and personal priorities.
“Run the World” also stars Stephen Bishop (“Moneyball,” “Imposters”) as Matthew, Tosin Morohunfola (“Black Lightning”) as Ola, Erika Alexander (“Living Single”) as Barb, Nick Sagar (“Queen of the South”) as Anderson, Jay Walker (“Grey’s Anatomy”) as Jason, and guest star Tonya Pinkins (“All My Children”) as Gwynn.
Creator Leigh Davenport is the one to watch. The ultimate creative multi-hyphenate—director, writer, and producer—she lives between the intersection of creating material that speaks to the woke generation unleashing the romantic, whimsical side rarely seen expressed by women of color.
Davenport is an experienced woman with 15 years in the entertainment and editorial industries, holding positions of power at BET and VH1 and as editorial director of the leading lifestyle site HelloBeautiful.com. She is also the writer of BET’s reimagining of “Boomerang.” Additionally, Davenport wrote the screenplay for the upcoming Netflix film “The Perfect Find” starring Gabrielle Union and the screenplay for Lifetime’s Wendy Williams biopic.
“Run the World” is loosely inspired by Davenport’s life, in her 20s, living in Harlem after she graduated from Spelman (2005) and began working in media. She knew that a show about successful and awesome African-American women did not exist on television, so she created one.
The motto of this story? Speak your truth into existence; the universe is listening because “Run the World” is pitch-perfect.
Here is what Davenport and Bowser had to share about how and why the series got made.
AmNews: Why did you create the amazing, and in my opinion, perfect series “Run the World”?
Leigh Davenport: I wanted to make the friendships more central, more tribal [and] I wanted this to be a show about enviable female friendships. Which is part of my brand. I think it’s important that we see ourselves leaning on each other and propping each other up.
AmNews: This is a perfect series. I’m so glad that you made this series.
Yvette Lee Bowser: Awesome. Awesome. It’s great to be back in this enviable female friendship lane, telling these stories of our tight-knit sisterhood. Our Black, beautiful tribe, that is for sure. I am blessed and privileged to do so.
AMN: As a critic, I am looking for something to focus on that isn’t just right for the show. I can’t find anything. It’s perfect.
YLB: Well, when you spend three years making something. I get it. We try to make it as appealing and close to perfect, and dimensional as possible.
AMN: Awww. Three years. There is perfection.
YLB: Honestly, I think it’s 11 years in the making. It’s three years of my involvement and we have baked in a lot of love and joy and authenticity into the show. And I think that’s what people are experiencing. We wanted it to be a submersive experience. Visually and sonically and in terms of the content, and I think we did that.
AMN: No. I know that you did that.
YLB: We succeeded in showing Harlem the way we wanted to. Paying homage to that Black cultural mecca. It’s a beautiful place to set a show, it is, and I think Starz gave us the resources to do it right, to do it well, and I am grateful for that. Because we don’t always have the kind of resources to put into our art as others. So, it was great to have that opportunity and make something as beautiful and cinematic as our show.
AMN: You did Harlem proud!
YLB: Leigh [Davenport] lived there for two years and when she described it to me, this kind of notion of the Harlem campus, and it being this comfortable enclave, we were on the same page on how we would pay homage to that sacred space, and party in it. And live in it, love in it the way these characters do. It gives me all the feels.
AMN: Yes. It gives me all the feels.
YLB: I’m glad that you as a Harlemite got it.
AMN: Yes. When the sister was celebrating her birthday with mac & cheese served at a small, hole-in-the-wall bar—the heat rising from the plate, and the joy on her face.
AMN: That’s Harlem.