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“The Other Black Girl” author says Hulu series is 'a mishmash of genres'

The Other Black Girl
The Other Black Girl

Hulu Ashleigh Murray and Sinclair Daniel on 'The Other Black Girl'

When Zakiya Dalila Harris set out to write her novel The Other Black Girl, she pulled from her own experiences. "I was working in publishing and was the only Black editorial assistant, the only Black full-time employee on my floor," the author tells EW. "I remember seeing another Black woman coming out of the bathroom stall like two years into my time there, and I was like, 'Who is this person?' I was taken by how excited I was to see her."

That inspiration brought readers the story of Nella, an editorial assistant at Wagner Books, who gets excited when her company hires another Black woman named Hazel. But, of course, the story isn't as simple as that. Soon after Hazel's hiring, Nella receives an anonymous note telling her to "Leave Wagner now," which makes her start to wonder what she's missing — and whether Hazel is involved in anything sinister.

The Other Black Girl
The Other Black Girl

Hulu 'The Other Black Girl'

Already a New York Times best-seller, The Other Black Girl is soon to be a television show. And for Harris, who also writes on the series, casting was everything. "I had to detach myself from [Nella]," Harris admits. And once she did that, Sinclair Daniel emerged as the obvious choice. "There's something so palpable in Sinclair Daniel's audition. I can see so much in her face at once, and Nella goes through so many highs and so many lows," Harris says. "I really do feel like she just had this magical thing where you're rooting for her, but she's also not a doormat."

As for the other key figure — get it? — in the story, the show turned to Riverdale's Ashleigh Murray for the role of Hazel.

"The moment I saw Ashleigh Murray and we met on Zoom, I'll never forget our conversation and how she just felt really drawn to the role of Hazel," Harris says of the easy casting choice. "I feel so lucky."

The Other Black Girl
The Other Black Girl

Hulu 'The Other Black Girl'

Rounding out the cast is Bellamy Young as Nella's boss, Eric McCormack as Nella's boss's boss (Richard Wagner himself), Hunter Parrish as her boyfriend, Brittany Adebumola as her best friend, and Garcelle Beauvais as the author of her favorite book. With all of their help, Nella will piece together the mystery of what is really going on at Wagner Books, a task that isn't without its risks.

"I've always been really big into horror, like The Stepford Wives and Rosemary's Baby and Stephen King and all the things that could be wrong with a person," Harris says. "I see this book and the show as a mishmash of genres."

The Other Black Girl premieres Sept. 13 on Hulu.

Make sure to check out EW's Fall TV Preview cover story on Gen V — as well as all of our 2023 Fall TV Preview content, releasing through Sept. 21.

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