‘Diarra From Detroit’ Creator Says Show Is a “Beautiful Growing Up” of the Mystery Genre

“I come as one, I stand as 10,000,” Diarra Kilpatrick said through tears at the premiere of Diarra From Detroit in Los Angeles on Wednesday night as she thanked the cast, crew and executives at BET for their work in bringing her new series to life.

Premiering on BET+ on Thursday, the mystery comedy-drama created and executive produced by Kilpatrick is an emotional milestone for the writer and actress who grew up performing in theater in Detroit before moving to Los Angeles to further pursue her passion. “I think about the fact that in 2012 I used my tax return to make a web series,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s been a long journey, and I’m really grateful to all the people who have become a part of it, and I’m grateful to myself for being able to get to my dream.”

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Diarra From Detroit sees Kilpatrick star in the lead role of Diarra Brickland, a divorced schoolteacher who’s set on the path to solve a decades-old missing person’s case after refusing to believe she’s been ghosted by her Tinder date. The show’s main cast includes Phylicia Rashad, Morris Chestnut, DomiNque Perry, Bryan Terrell Clark, Claudia Logan, Jon Chaffin and Shannon Wallace, with guest appearances by Harry Lennix, John Salley and fellow Detroit native Jemele Hill to come in season one. The eight-episode straight-to-series original is the first one to come out of BET Studios. The venture was launched by BET and ViacomCBS in 2021 with principal partners Kenya Barris, Rashida Jones and Aaron Rahsaan Thomas to create premium film and TV series that offer Black content creators equity ownership.

“Diarra gave us this amazing pitch to her incredible story, and we said we love it; it’s original, it’s funny, it’s smart and it’s entertaining,” explained BET CEO Scott Mills at the premiere. “We said, OK, let’s make this the first project from BET Studios, let’s make it a project for BET+, and let’s bring all these things together the way Diarra envisioned them. What you’re going to see is so valuable and so important because it’s about being smart, and funny, and accessible, and it’s anchored in our culture, and it’s anchored in our community, and that’s what BET and BET Studios is about.”

Barris, who’s an executive producer of the show through his production company Khalabo Ink Society, said he was immediately taken by Kilpatrick’s concept as well.

“It’s the writing, her humor and her vision,” Barris told THR. “It was so clear that this is something special.” He also believes its launch signifies a new way forward for Black creators as audiences lament the recent cancellations of popular series like Grand Crew and Rap Sh!t, whose creator Issa Rae told Porter magazine in her January cover story, “You’re seeing very clearly now that our stories are less of a priority.”

“I think we’re at a place right now where a lot of people are doing their own thing,” Barris continued. “Independent money is happening. This is happening. Stories are becoming more diverse, and I think we’re going to start seeing a whole different picture.”

That was Kilpatrick’s hope in creating Diarra From Detroit, in which she seeks to not only show a different side of life in her hometown but also bring a fresh perspective to one of her favorite TV genres.

“I love mystery shows, and I think Black women deserve a seat at that table,” said Kilpatrick. “I think it’s a really critical time because there aren’t that many Black female-driven shows right now, so I’m happy that people can have this show. Maybe you won’t always relate to what she’s going through, but I think it’s a beautiful growing up of the genre for a new generation.”

Diarra from Detroit is currently streaming on BET+.

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