Prenctice Penny (Courtesy of Justina Mintz / HBO)
Under the new deal, Penny will produce, write and direct new projects through his A Penny for Your Thoughts Entertainment banner across Disney platforms, including Hulu, which is the primary home for Onyx Collective titles.
“I could not be more excited to partner with Onyx Collective for the next phase of my career,” Penny said in statement announcing the new deal. “The second I sat down with Dana [Walden, chairman of entertainment at Walt Disney Television] and Tara [Duncan, president of Freeform and Onyx Collective] I knew I wanted to work with them and make this my new home. To be at the ground floor of what Tara and the entire Onyx Collective team wants to be is an honor.”
In addition to the projects Penny helms himself, A Penny for Your Thoughts Entertainment will also have the ability to develop and supervise projects from other writers. Chris Pollack, the company’s president and partner, will continue in his role, leading the company alongside Penny; the company’s development team, led by Alex Soler, will also make the move.
“The types of projects that Onyx, Chris (Pollack), and my fantastic team want to make line up perfectly. We are also ecstatic that we can continue to foster and develop more one of a kind artists under this deal,” Penny added. “As a writer/director/producer you always want to have as many tools at your disposal to create your art and all of the various platforms under the Disney brand just made for a beautiful marriage.”
Penny is best known as the Emmy-nominated showrunner of HBO’s “Insecure,” where he also serves as an executive producer and is a frequent director. The hit series, created by and starring Issa Rae, will return for a fifth and final season this fall.
Most recently, Penny co-created and executive produced “Pause With Sam Jay,” with stand-up comedian and former “SNL” writer Sam Jay. The late-night series has been renewed for a second season at HBO. In 2020, Penny marked his feature directorial and screenwriting debut with the Netflix original film “Uncorked,” starring Mamoudou Athie, Niecy Nash and Courtney B. Vance.
Announced in May 2021, Onyx Collective focuses on curating premium content by creators of color and underrepresented voices. Led by Duncan, Onyx Collective’s roster of creators includes writer and comedian Natasha Rothwell (“Insecure,” “SNL,” “The White Lotus”). It will also be the home for all non-Marvel titles produced by Ryan Coogler’s Proximity (“Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Black Panther”).
“When we mapped out our strategy and ideal partners for Onyx Collective, Prentice Penny was at the top of the vision board,” Duncan said of partnering with Penny. “Prentice has a depth of experience telling wildly entertaining, culturally specific stories.”
Duncan added: “His prolific ambitions, both as a writer and director, and his unique ability to identify trends make him the perfect creator to help build our brand. I’m honored he chose Onyx Collective to be his creative home.”
In addition to A Penny for Your Thoughts’ scripted productions, the multimedia company also produced unscripted series, including the original lifestyle series “Upscale With Prentice Penny” for TruTV. Penny’s past credits include the Golden Globe-winning “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Happy Endings,” “Scrubs” and “Girlfriends.”
Penny is repped by WME, Theresa Kang-Lowe’s Blue Marble Management, and attorneys John Meigs and Adam Kaller.
Variety's Angelique Jackson contributed to this post.