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Aunjanue Ellis, Andrene Ward-Hammond Join AMC Series ’61st Street’

Aunjanue Ellis (Left) and Andrene Ward-Hammond (Right)

Courtesy of Dave Starbuck/Geisler-Fotopress/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images/Wesley Volcy

Aunjanue Ellis and Andrene Ward-Hammond have been cast in the upcoming AMC series “61st Street,” Variety has learned.

They join previously announced cast members Courtney B. Vance, Tosin Cole, and Bentley Green. “61st Street,” which has been ordered as a two-season television event series with eight episodes per season, is a courtroom drama that follows Moses Johnson (Cole), a promising, black high school athlete, who is swept up into the infamously corrupt Chicago criminal justice system. Taken by the police as a supposed gang member, he finds himself in the eye of the storm as police and prosecutors seek revenge for the death of an officer during a drug bust gone wrong.

Ellis will appear in the series regular role of Martha Roberts, a candidate for alderman on the South Side who is very skilled at telling the voting public that her drive and ambition will be placed at their service. The wife of Franklin Roberts (Vance) and a former stay-at-home mom to their autistic son, David, Martha is torn between her burgeoning career in politics and the needs of her family. Ward-Hammond will play the series regular role of Norma Johnson, a cleaning lady at the local courthouse and a dedicated mother to her two sons, Moses (Cole) and Joshua (Green).

Ellis received an Emmy nomination in 2019 for her role in the Netflix limited series “When They See Us.” The role also reunites her with Vance, as the two previously appeared in the HBO series “Lovecraft Country.” Ellis has also been on the shows “Designated Survivor,” “Quantico,” and “The Mentalist” among many others as well as films like “Men of Honor,” “Ray,” and “If Beale Street Could Talk.”

She is repped by UTA, TMT Entertainment Group, Inc., and Kraditor & Haber.

Ward-Hammond is also a “Lovecraft Country” alum but was most recently seen in the Showtime series “Your Honor.” Her other TV roles include “Manifest,” “The Righteous Gemstones,” and “Claws.” Her feature credits include “The Lovebirds” and “Project Power.” She is repped by The Alexander White Agency.

“61st Street” hails from executive producer and showrunner Peter Moffat. Michael B. Jordan and Alana Mayo of Outlier Society will also executive produce along with J. David Shanks. Production is set to kickoff in March for a 2022 debut.

Variety's Joe Otterson contributed to this post.


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