VisionTV to bow its first original series

The network's new drama is set to star R&B singer-songwriter Keshia Chanté.

VisionTV is celebrating its 20th anniversary with the launch of its first original series, Mahalia (a working title), which begins production on Sept. 2.

The six-part, hour-long show is the first result of the DiverseTV initiative instigated by VisionTV in collaboration with the National Screen Institute – Canada, a program designed to offer visible minority and Aboriginal writers the opportunity to craft a TV drama for national broadcast.

‘Throughout its history, VisionTV has been a leading supporter of original Canadian production,’ says Mark Prasuhn, CCO, S-Vox. ‘It’s fitting that, as the network celebrates its 20th anniversary, we are creating opportunities for diverse Canadian talent both in front of and behind the camera.’

Shooting in Halifax and produced by Halifax Film, the show stars Canadian songstress Keshia Chanté in the fictional title role of Mahalia Brown, a gifted gospel singer from Toronto on the threshold of leaving church and family to seek stardom. The show will also feature a gospel choir composed of singers recruited from the Halifax area, which will be the focus of a one-hour documentary for VisionTV.

‘We have assembled a first-rate creative team to bring Mahalia to life, and are thrilled to have an artist of Keshia Chanté’s stature in the lead,’ says Joan Jenkinson, director, independent production, VisionTV, the project’s executive producer. ‘We are confident that this series will break new ground, showcasing some extraordinary Canadian musical and filmmaking talent and telling a story of tremendous emotional resonance.’

VisionTV is available via basic cable in nearly 8 million Canadian homes and has a weekly 30-minute reach of nearly 1 million viewers.