YouTube today unveiled its slate of 2021 Originals, a mix of new and returning series and specials it says showcases its “commitment to partnering with YouTube Creators, musicians, and artists to tell authentic and dynamic stories.”
Previously and newly announced programming for this year includes several projects fronted by YouTubers, including a second interactive special with longtime gaming creator Markiplier (premiering later this year) and second-season renewals for Marques Brownlee’s Retro Tech (premiering in April) and Jake Roper’s Could You Survive the Movies? (early 2021).
Also in the pipeline are further installments of Bear Witness, Take Action, which brings together Black public figures, celebrities, creators, and activists with a goal to “unite and inspire YouTube’s global community to take action for racial justice and protect Black lives,” per YouTube.
The initiative’s first two livestreamed installments aired last year; they and upcoming chapters are produced by YouTube’s $100 million Black Voices Fund. YouTube did not say how many installments have been ordered, or give exact premiere dates.
Other slated Originals include an untitled project from singer-songwriter and bestselling author Alicia Keys, a second season of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Emmy-winning Create Together, and a docuseries tracking the global rise of the buzzy K-Pop industry.
You can see YouTube’s complete 2021 slate below (with descriptions provided by YouTube):
- Black Renaissance–Premieres February 26
On February 26, YouTube Originals, in partnership with Google Arts & Culture, will premiere “Black Renaissance,” a new special from the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund celebrating the contributions of Black History makers who shaped the world with powerful performances, history breaks and inspirational calls-to-action from living legends about the Black creatives and artists who have fueled change. Featured talent includes President Obama, Michelle Obama, Jason Reynolds, Stacey Abrams, H.E.R., Anderson .Paak, Kelly Rowland, Bob the Drag Queen, Tobe Nwigwe, Nicole Byer and many more. The special is produced by Done+Dusted.
- Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil–Premieres March 23
“Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil” is a powerful four-part docuseries exploring every aspect that led to Lovato’s nearly fatal overdose in 2018, and her awakenings in the aftermath. Viewers are granted unprecedented access to the superstar’s personal and musical journey during the most trying time of her life as she unearths her prior traumas and discovers the importance of her physical, emotional, and mental health. Far deeper than an inside look beyond the celebrity surface, the docuseries is an intimate portrait of addiction, and the process of healing and empowerment. The series is directed and executive produced by Michael D. Ratner, and produced by OBB Pictures and SB Projects.
- Glad You Asked Season 2–Premieres March 30
The Emmy-nominated series, “Glad You Asked,” is an ensemble-led exploration of topics driven by our curiosity about the world around us. Using Vox’s signature explainer format, the second season will examine incredibly timely questions around racial justice and the impact of systemic racism in our communities and daily lives — from implicit bias to how our neighborhoods determine our futures, race and A.I., education inequity, and the impact of racism on our bodies. Bringing a number of diverse and varied backgrounds together, this season features new perspectives from five inquisitive hosts and the world’s foremost experts to offer an experiential journey that empowers audiences to better understand their world. “Glad You Asked” is executive produced by Joie Jacoby, Joe Posner, Chad Mumm, Mark W. Olsen for Vox Media Studios. Dana J. Olkkonen and Mona Lalwani are co-executive producers for Vox Media Studios.
- K-Pop Evolution—Premieres March 31
From Emmy and Peabody Award winning Banger Films, this docuseries reveals the past, present, and future of the global music phenomenon and $10 billion global industry, K-Pop. The series will feature never-before-seen personal struggles dealing with the pressure of being an idol from some of K-Pops biggest stars and unprecedented access behind the scenes into the making of a K-Pop group. “K-Pop Evolution” is produced by Banger Films.
- Create Together Season 2–Premieres April 22
In season two of the Emmy Award winning mini-series, Joseph Gordon-Levitt again invites people from all over the world to come together and create art, music, mini-docs, short films and more. This season will be a celebration of nature; an ode to the beauty in our own backyards, and beyond! Everything created for the show – from music, to art pieces, to short films, documentaries, and more – will be created collaboratively by the audience, and draw inspiration from the natural world in all its forms. HITRECORD is creating episodes right now, so if you like to write, act, draw, take photos, make music and more, share your stories and experiences on HITRECORD.org/CreateTogether. “Create Together” is produced by Brian Graden Media and HITRECORD.
- Retro Tech Season 2–Premieres in April
YouTube Originals has ordered a second season of the Emmy nominated series “Retro Tech” starring YouTube Creator Marques Brownlee (13.6M Subscribers). Each episode of the first season featured Marques examining a different nostalgic product – many of which he had never used – exploring the history, impact on society, and how each product defined pop culture and changed the world as we know it. In season two, Marques will explore the technological promises of the past. Futurists predicted that the tech of today would surround us with flying cars, robot maids, and teleportation. While some of these predictions are still sci-fi, others like mobile video calls, virtual reality, and even A.I. and quantum computers are quickly becoming a part of daily life. Marques will unravel these retro tech promises to see just how close we’ve come in 2021 and the direction revolutionary tech is headed next. “Retro Tech” is executive produced by Nick Budabin, Rachael Knudsen, Marty Moe and Chad Mumm for Vox Media Studios. Mark W. Olsen and Dana J. Olkkonen are co-executive producers for Vox Media Studios.
- Supreme Courts [working title]–Premieres this Summer
In this special from the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund, rapper and basketball lover Quavo explores new cities and communities around the country through the lens of famous local streetball courts. With the help of some of today’s biggest NBA stars who call these cities home, viewers will learn about the role basketball courts play for the local community at large, important historical moments centered there, and the little-known stories of the players who left this little swath of asphalt to go pro. “Supreme Courts” is based on a Quavo original idea and produced by Critical Content, with Tom Forman, Jenny Daly, Quavo, and Brian Sher serving as Executive Producers.
- Bear Witness, Take Action–New installments premiere later this year
New installments have been ordered for “Bear Witness, Take Action,” a conversation aiming to unite and inspire YouTube’s global community to take action for racial justice and protect Black lives featuring YouTube creators, artists, influential public figures and prominent activist voices. The first two installments of “Bear Witness, Take Action” premiered in 2020, and the special was the first project to come from the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund dedicated to amplifying and developing the voices of Black creators and artists and their stories.
- Untitled Alicia Keys Project–Premieres later this year
YouTube Originals announced a new intimate docuseries with GRAMMY(R) Award-winning singer-songwriter, producer, New York Times best selling author and entrepreneur Alicia Keys. More information to be announced soon. The project is produced by Westbrook Media.
- Untitled Interactive Special with Markiplier–Premieres later this year
A second YouTube Originals interactive special with YouTube Creator Markiplier (26M Subscribers) is set for later this year. His first special “A Heist With Markiplier” allowed viewers to control their favorite YouTube Gamer’s life-or-death decisions in a classic museum heist and currently has over 27 million views. The interactive film is produced by Markiplier and Rooster Teeth Studios. Executive Producers Include Mark Fischbach, Matt Hullum, Will Hyde, and Ryan P. Hall.
- If I Could Tell You Just One Thing–Premieres later this year
This new four-part series out of the UK features YouTube star Patricia Bright in conversation with some of the world’s most inspirational women about the stories and experiences that have shaped their own lives. “If I Could Tell You Just One Thing” is based on the bestselling book of the same name and produced by HiddenLight Productions, the production company recently launched by Hillary Clinton, Sam Branson and Chelsea Clinton.
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