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Queer ‘Slave Play’ Creator, Jeremy O. Harris Signs HBO Overall Deal

Jeremy O. Harris with his hair braided, reclining.

The Out100 cover star has negotiated a "discretionary fund" for himself in the contract for his theatrical work. 

The writer Jeremy O. Harris has had a break out year and a half. We first profiled him as he prepared for the Off-Broadway run of his production Slave Play, an interrogation of race relations in America and the ramifications they can have on interracial relationships. That was back in 2018. Since, he's taken that work to Broadway in a history-making turn -- it earned him a coveted cover of our Out100 issue -- and embarked on many other projects. He's consulted on the first season of Euphoria, co-wrote the Twitter thread turned film Zola, launched a site to serve as an archive for Black Broadway creatives, in addition to staging and writing other productions. And now, HBO has signed the creator into an overall deal.

"Since first embarking on a theater career I've known that TV/Film would most likely be the only space where I could build a livelihood for myself, like many other playwrights before me," Harris said in a statement to Variety. "Yet, I wanted to make sure that any company I worked with in that space recognized the importance of maintaining the delicate ecology of theater in these times. To know that HBO also believed in that vision gives me immense hope for the future of both industries. This unique partnership means that the relationship between the worlds of theater and television can become more symbiotic in years to come. This also gives me an opportunity to spread the wealth among a community that has shared so much with me."

This deal, which lasts for two years, will see Harris return to Euphoria as co-producer, in addition to creating his own work. His Yale Drama Graduate Thesis, a work called YELL, is currently being developed into an untitled pilot and at the pace Harris works, it'll likely be joined by others soon.

In addition, in accordance with the writer's wishes, Harris will also receive a discretionary fund for him to continue his theater work. According to him, the offer for the fund came only after Harris initially turned down the HBO deal.

"I've always felt that there was something vampiric and fucked up [about] theater artists being told if they wanted to have a career that paid they had to write for TV," he wrote to Twitter. "Not every playwright wants to nor should, I hope that more economies can be built for artists who do go to TV to share that wealth with the artists who inspire us doing the work that most fulfills us.""

For those who are burning to see another Harris theater production, Daddy, the play that got him into Yale, has its U.K.. premiere this month.

RELATED | 5 Things Jeremy O. Harris Is Working on Right Now

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