NewFronts: YouTube preps projects with Will Smith, Alicia Keys

Global streaming platform YouTube has unveiled a host of upcoming unscripted series and projects as part of its NewFronts presentation held on Tuesday (May 4). Highlights include a six-part unscripted ...
May 5, 2021

Global streaming platform YouTube has unveiled a host of upcoming unscripted series and projects as part of its NewFronts presentation held on Tuesday (May 4).

Highlights include a six-part unscripted series with Will Smith (pictured); a performance docuseries featuring Alicia Keys; Ice Cold, a docuseries that explores issues around racial inequity through the lens of hip-hop jewelry; and Recipe for Change (working title), a special celebrating Asian and Pacific Islander culture.

Westbrook Media’s Best Shape of My Life (working title) has a 2022 premiere date and follows actor ad Westbrook co-founder Will Smith’s journey to rebuild his body and get his “groove back.” Smith will challenge himself in every aspect of his fitness including agility while teaming up with pro athletes, scientists, experts and YouTube creators. The six-parter is being directed and showrun by Dexton Deboree (Unbanned). This project marks Smith’s second project with YouTube Originals — the first being the massively successful Will Smith: The Jump, produced by Fly on the Wall Entertainment.

Also from Westbrook comes Noted (working title). As previously reported in Realscreen, it’s a follow-doc featuring Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, producer, and author Alicia Keys as she ramps up to mark the 20th anniversary of Songs in A Minor, while also gearing up to record her 8th studio album. The documentary is set to premiere this summer.

Also premiering this summer is Ice Cold a docuseries from executive producers Migos, Kevin “Coach K.” Lee and Pierre “P” Thomas that uses hip-hop jewelry to explore deeper issues around racial inequity and the American Dream. Within four short episodes, director Karam Gill (G Funk, Supervillain) explores hip-hop’s ability to reimagine and transcend established notions of wealth, status and superiority. The series is coproduced by Quality Films, Universal Music Group’s Mercury Studios and Polygram Entertainment, MGX Creative, and Mass Appeal.

Recipe for Change (working title) premieres June 16 and brings together Asian American celebrities, chefs, activists, and creators to celebrate AAPI culture and discuss the recent and historic acts of hate and violence against the AAPI community. LeBron James and Maverick Carter will serve as executive producers on the special with their media conglomerate the SpringHill Company. Michelle Kwan and Dennis Cheng will also executive produce alongside Jamal Henderson and Philip Byron of the SpringHill Company, showrunner Joel Relampagos, and director Rich Kim.

Barbershop Medicine, premiering this summer, aims to put the “public” back in Public Health, exploring the impacts race and socioeconomic status have on healthcare and longevity. The doc special brings together musical artist Masego, physicians Dr. Italo Brown and Dr. Jamie Rutland and community members in a barbershop to discuss COVID-19. The discussion will center on the disproportionate impact on Black and Brown communities while also tackling the misinformation and mistrust surrounding vaccination in hopes of increasing awareness and accessibility. The special is from the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund and is executive produced by Charles D. King, Marta Fernandez, Jelani Johnson, and Aisha Corpas Wynn for Macro Television Studios and Culture House. Hashim Williams is executive producer and showrunner.

Other recently announced YouTube Originals projects include a sustainability slate of original content featuring BookTube with Bill Gates; Seat at the Table with YouTube creator and climate advocate Jack Harries and David Attenborough which bows August 25; Stay Wild (working title) premiering October 2021, where Brave Wilderness, in partnership with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Madica Productions take viewers to the front lines of climate change; and Shut it off ASAP (working title) with YouTube Creators AsapSCIENCE premiering October 2021.

The streamer is also planning a global livestream special for Pride Month on June 25, in partnership with The Trevor Project to raise money for LGBTQ+ youth featuring Trixie Mattel, Daniel Howell, Kim Chi, Monét X Change, Peppermint, Denali Foxx and more. Another global broadcast and streaming special comes in the form of VAX LIVE: The Concert to Reunite the World, premiering on May 8 and produced in partnership with Global Citizen.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.