NBC Buys FBI Drama About Agents Fighting To Overcome Racism, Sexism

Written by Ann Brown

Wendy Calhoun likes to tell unknown stories and now the writer has inked an NBC deal in partnership with actress-producer Elizabeth Banks to bring the dramatic story of a mother-and-daughter FBI team to TV.

NBC is developing “Strong Justice,” inspired by Marlo McGuire Graham and Ethel McGuire. It centers on the FBI’s first-ever mother-daughter duo, Special Agents Etta and Memphis Strong, who strive to be exceptional investigators despite sexist and racist hurdles, Deadline reported.

Calhoun, who wrote the project, executive produces through her new Edgewood Place Entertainment banner along with Banks. McGuire Graham and McGuire will consult.

Calhoun has been super busy. “Calhoun has a gender-flipped TV reboot of ‘Lean on Me’ in the works at The CW. The project centers on a female principal working at a public high school in Akron, Ohio,” Women and Hollywood reported. “Lean on Me” is being done in partnership with John Legend and LeBron James.

Dallas, TX-born-and-raised Calhoun, who studied film and television at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, has racked up some impressive credits in Hollywood. “Most recently, Calhoun served as Consulting Producer for ABC’s ‘Station 19.’ She has developed new series pilots with Netflix, FX, 20th TV Studios, and ABC Signature. Her past credits include co-executive producing and writing the historic first season of Fox’s megahit series ‘Empire.’ In addition, she’s written and produced for ABC’S ‘Nashville,’ FX’s ‘Justified,’ ABC’s ‘Revenge,’ and NBC’s ‘Life.’ Calhoun wrote and directed the virtual reality short ‘Left Behind,’ sponsored by Google, and honored as ‘Best in VR’ at Digital Hollywood. Calhoun received a 2010 Peabody Award for ‘Justified,’” the Future of Storytelling reported.

FBI drama
Wendy Calhoun, right, and Jason George present an award on stage at the 38th College Television Awards presented by the Television Academy Foundation at the Saban Media Center on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, in the NoHo Arts District in Los Angeles. Invision/AP


But what makes Calhoun’s approach to storytelling different is what she wants to tell. She “refuses to tell color-blind stories. By choosing to assign cultural specificity, Calhoun adds an extra dimension to her characters and opens up the door for unexpected and empathetic reactions from the audience. Through her writing, she hopes to move the needle on what is considered “good” entertainment and introduce a more diverse set of characters and plot lines to the television screen,” the Future of Storytelling reported.

She is working to change the face of entertainment on a number of fronts. “Calhoun also actively participates with diversity and gender equality in entertainment initiatives including Google’s Computer Science for Diversity in Media events, and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media,” Deadline reported.