Back in 2021, activist, author, Nobel Laureate and Oxford graduate Malala Yousafzai joined the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg by signing a multi-year deal with Apple TV+. As part of their programming partnership and under Yousafzai’s newly formed production banner, Extracurricular, she planned to collaborate with the streaming giant on a spate of dramas, comedies, documentaries and animated series. Now, after months of anticipation, her first slate of films and TV shows has finally been unveiled.
According to an exclusive report in Variety, it includes a feature adaptation of Disorientation, Elaine Hsieh Chou’s electrifying satire about Asian Americans at graduate school, due to be produced by Hyperobject Industries, the company run by Don’t Look Up’s Adam McKay; a scripted series based on Fifty Words for Rain, Asha Lemmie’s coming-of-age epic following a mixed race woman seeking acceptance in post-World War II Japan; and a documentary about the haenyeo community of elderly fisherwomen on South Korea’s Jeju Island from Peabody Award nominee Sue Kim, which is currently in production.
Casting has yet to take place for the first two projects, and Erika Kennair, Extracurricular’s president of production, told the publication that there will be a focus on new talent. “What I hope to bring to the table are the voices of women of color, and debut writers and Muslim directors and writers,” added Yousafzai, of her plans going forward. “I hope we can have a wide range of perspectives and that we challenge some of the stereotypes we hold in our societies. And I also hope that the content is entertaining, and that people fall in love with the characters.”
While some in the industry might have assumed that Extracurricular would focus exclusively on weighty, family-friendly and issue-driven projects, given Yousafzai’s background in activism, Kennair insists this will not be the case. Instead, she promises films and TV shows that reflect Yousafzai’s wide range of interests, from “fun [stories] that bring people together” to darker fare. “Malala has probably the darkest sense of humor I’ve ever encountered,” she says.
But, alongside the pitch-black comedies and sweeping tearjerkers, there may also be space for Yousafzai to tell her own story. Kennair notes that the idea of creating a fictionalized or unscripted account of Yousafzai and her family’s experience with the Taliban comes up frequently at Extracurricular, though they are eager to “find a surprising way in… that really [adds dimension to] the characters”. Here’s hoping it comes to fruition.
Originally published in Vogue.co.uk