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Checkmate! Nas & ‘Power’ EP Mark Canton Team Up For Series On First Black Chess Grandmaster Maurice Ashley

EXCLUSIVE: “Plan to leave something behind so your name’ll live on / no matter what the game lives on,” says Nas on his 1999 album Nastradamus, and now the revered rapper is making some moves in a new game.

Chess to be precise. Chess at the highest level.

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Nas has teamed up with Power Universe EP Mark Canton for a TV series based on the life and victories of Maurice Ashley, the first Black International Chess Grandmaster. In conjunction with Ordinary Angels producers Green Hummingbird Entertainment and producer Alexandra Renee-Scott, the plan is for an NYC-set eight-episode initial season depicting Ashley’s barrier breaking journey, I’ve learned

“I’m grateful to be part of bringing Maurice Ashley’s incredible life to the screen,” Nas said today of the project. “His story is one of greatness and his perseverance will continue to inspire the next generation of thinkers.” Former Columbia Pictures chairman Canton put it even more bluntly: We cannot be more excited to move forward on this one.”

The Jamaican-born and Brooklyn-raised Ashley rose up through the checkmate ranks to be become a Grandmaster in 1999. The founder of the Harlem Chess Center, Ashley has been a coach to national champions like Harlem’s Raging Rooks and the Dark Knights.

In 2016, Ashely was named the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame. He is also the author of 2005’s Chess for Success, and the upcoming Move by Move and The Life Changing Magic of Chess

“I’m so humbled to have my story told and so grateful that Nas has embraced this project,” Ashley states of the drama in development.

“It is not just a story about me it’s about the community of people who have influenced and enriched my life too,” the Grandmaster added. “I love the idea of shining a light on the greatness of so many people and what they have done to contribute to my success and success in their own right. It’s a happy story about doing something that no-one expected and taking the road less traveled, which is always exciting for me. I think this is a story that will resonate with a broad audience as it speaks to living your dreams and shocking the world.”

“Maurice Ashley’s story is one of resilience, triumph, and the power of the human spirit,” Green Hummingbird’s Sian Edwards-Beal said today. Co-founder and former National Geographic Entertainment president David Beal added, “We are thrilled that Nas joined us and Canton Entertainment to tell the amazing story of Maurice and the Raging Rooks.”

Hip hop legend and Mass Appeal co-founder Nas is represented by WME. The Canton and Dorothy Canton co-helmed Canton Entertainment are represented by Gersh. Green Hummingbird Entertainment is represented by Glaser Weil’s Patricia Glaser, as well as Simon Pulman at Pryor Cashman.

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