The adaption of the sci-fi novel written by Femi Fadugba will star and be produced by Daniel Kaluuya.
The Upper World is British-Nigerian physicist-turned-author Fadugba’s debut novel and the first in a planned series. Penguin UK and HarperCollins US are expected to publish the follow-up novels in mid-2021 and early 2022, Netflix picked up the rights to the book in August 2020.
Kaluuya will play Esso who is caught in a deadly feud and on the verge of expulsion when he realises he has an unexpected gift – access to a world where he can see glimpses of the past and the future. A generation away, Rhia is walking to football practice in 2035, unaware that the mysterious stranger she’s about to meet desperately needs her help to avert a bullet fired 15 years ago.
Writers Daniel Fajemisin-Duncan and Marlon Smith grew up together in South London and channelled some of their lives into writing crime drama Run, which starred Olivia Colman and Lennie James (Fear The Walking Dead). The show earned them the RTS Award for best drama writer and the BAFTA Television Craft award for breakthrough talent.
They previously wrote for Sky Atlantic’s Save Me and Save Me Too, which reunited them with James, who created the series. The show won an RTS Award for outstanding drama, best drama writing and was BAFTA-nominated for best drama series. Currently, Fajemisin-Duncan& Smith are writing Cordoba, an epic action-adventure series about the Moorish conquest of Spain, for Macro TV Studio.
Currently living between Peckham and Baltimore, Fadugba has a Master’s from Oxford University, where he published in Quantum Physics, and was a Thouron Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania. He previously worked in consulting and in solar energy.
Kaluuya will produce the project, alongside Screen Arcade’s Eric Newman and Bryan Unkeless, who are producing through their first-look deal at Netflix. Fadugba is executive producing.
Duncan and Smith are repped by CAA, Grandview, and UK’s Sayle Screen. CAA represents Fadugba, in conjunction with Claire Wilson of the RCW Literary Agency, and brokered the rights deal with Netflix. Kaluuya is represented by CAA and Management 360. The actor previously executive produced and starred in Queen & Slim. He’s been picking up Best Actor awards for his portrayal of Fred Hampton in Judas and The Black Messiah. It’s now a countdown to the Oscars taking place Sunday 25th April.