WarnerMedia shatters windows, Kamilah Forbes on ‘Between the World and Me’

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Kamilah Forbes created a stage version of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book “Between the World and Me.” Now she’s directed a film adaptation for HBO. Photo by HBO.

WarnerMedia announced all 17 of its 2021 Warner Bros. movies will debut in theaters and stream on HBO Max at the same time. This shatters the traditional window between theatrical release and streaming that was foundational to the theater business. 

Then, early in the pandemic, Apollo Theater executive producer Kamilah Forbes  joined a weekly Zoom game night with friends from her Howard University days, including “This is Us” actress Susan Kelechi Watson and author Ta-Nehisi Coates. Then came the police killing of George Floyd, and protestors took to the streets. 

Forbes remembers how the tone shifted in their online gathering that week. Watson wished they could somehow do “Between the World and Me,” a play Forbes had previously created based on Coates’ book.  

So she figured out how to adapt it again, this time making the author’s book, which was written as an emotional letter from a Black father to his son, into a film for HBO.

As the pandemic raged, Forbes directed a huge cast that included Oprah Winfrey, Angela Davis, Mahershala Ali and more. She tells us how she did it — generally from a distance. “Between the World and Me” is now streaming on HBO Max.



Kim Masters


Kaitlin Parker