Black Filmmaker Kareem Mortimer Makes History, Lands U.S. Distribution Deal for Caribbean TV Show

This Is Paradise, the first Bahamian television series to secure a distribution deal with a major American streaming service, is officially on Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment’s free streaming service Crackle. The show, which premiered on May 30, 2023, is a six-episode series produced and directed by the award-winning Bahamian filmmaker Kareem Mortimer and can be accessed for free through Roku, Samsung TVs, and numerous other devices.

The series is a triumph for the Bahamian entertainment industry and Caribbean television as a whole. With an all-Bahamian/Caribbean cast, crew, and production team, This Is Paradise is a representation and cultural authenticity pioneer. Filmed on the picturesque island of Eleuthera, the production created employment opportunities for Eleutherans as cast members, crew, caterers, and more.

This Is Paradise tells a captivating story of two contrasting women who discover a shared heritage as half sisters after the sudden passing of their father. United by this revelation, they must come together to rescue his dilapidated hotel in the Bahamas. Over six episodes, This Is Paradise presents a heartwarming narrative set against the stunning tropical backdrop of the island.

Mortimer, the visionary creator of the series, is also the executive producer, infusing it with his unique perspective and creative prowess. Joining him are executive producer Julia Woolley Chatwin, producer Henrietta Edgecombe, and producers Nicole Sylvester and Trevite Willis. The series features an exceptional ensemble cast, including Dana Deveaux, Julia Woolley Chatwin, Michael Olodeye, Timico Sawyer, and Z’haneo Newbold. The dynamic directing team consists of Kareem Mortimer, Henrietta Edgecombe, and Lavado Stubbs, while the enchanting scripts are penned by Tim Papciak, Stephen Hanna, and Kerel Pinder.

“Highlighting and advocating for the diversity of Black cinema has been a core focus throughout my career,” said Gregory Maurice, senior director of global acquisitions and co-productions at Crackle. “’This Is Paradise’ showcases a fun and refreshing portrayal of Black people that breaks away from stereotypes. Kareem and his team have made history, and it is an honor for us to be part of this groundbreaking series by presenting it on our platform.”

The premiere of This Is Paradise coincides with Caribbean Heritage Month in the United States, which is celebrated in June. As streaming platforms increasingly embrace authentic African films and shows, Mortimer’s series presents the Bahamas in its true light, featuring genuine accents and locations outside Nassau, New Providence. The island of Eleuthera, where filming took place, is the first colonized Bahamian island, known for its unspoiled natural beauty and celebrity residents that include Mariah Carey, the British royal family, and local favorite Lenny Kravitz. It was also the film location of Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too?.

Zhane’o Newbold, a Caribbean social media sensation and comedian known for his Sarge character, described working on the project as incredibly thrilling.

“I was surrounded by a multitude of talented creatives and professionals operating on a grander scale,” said Newbold who plays Walcott in This Is Paradise. “Moreover, I am immensely honored to share a slice of this Bahamian history. My hope is that the viewers will have the opportunity to witness the remarkable and varied talent that thrives in the Bahamas, brilliantly expressed through this captivating endeavor.”

Newbold said he wants to establish a profound connection with his audience and enable them to truly engage with the rich essence of Bahamian culture.

“Showcasing our talent on an international platform is an immense opportunity,” Newbold continued. “The Bahamas requires greater global visibility, allowing us to establish our unique identity and consistently demonstrate our exceptional abilities. I firmly believe that this is just the start of a remarkable journey towards even greater achievements. My devoted fans have always wished for my triumphs and eagerly anticipate witnessing my expansion into international territories. Their excitement stems from witnessing my growth from humble beginnings to reaching new pinnacles of success.”

Dana Deveaux, who landed the lead role of half sister Keisha, agrees that being a part of the project is nothing short of amazing.

“There was something very special about working on authentic Bahamian material while utilizing the breathtaking landscape of the island of Eleuthera, which is also a character in the show,” said Deveaux. “It gives viewers a chance to experience the Bahamas in a completely new light, and I think this fresh take is only the beginning of the type of artistic work viewers can expect from Bahamian creatives. There is bigger and better to come – this is just the beginning!”

“Securing a deal to reach millions of viewers in the United States has been a long time coming, and we are tremendously grateful,” said Mortimer. “Joining the Crackle family, associated with Redbox and Chicken Soup For the Soul, surpasses our expectations. This achievement demonstrates that perseverance is worthwhile. I am delighted to work with this incredible team and, as we say, take 242 to the world.”

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