Writer, producer and script editor Cassandra Johnson-Bekoe has joined U.K. independent production company DARE Pictures in the newly created position of head of scripted development.

Johnson-Bekoe was previously senior development executive at Daniel Kaluuya’s production outfit 59%, overseeing the company’s slate and generating new IP across international and regional markets. Prior to this she worked in scripted development and her credits include “Ted Lasso” season 2 (WarnerBros/Apple+), “Riches” (Greenacre Films for ITV), “Secret Invasion” (Marvel Studios) and “The Chemistry of Death” (Cuba Pictures Ltd, for Paramount+).

Reporting into DARE CEO Derren Lawford, Johnson-Bekoe will focus on developing the company’s scripted slate, as well bringing with her an original slate of IP and working on new drama and film projects with a view to taking them from pitch to commission with a particular emphasis on the U.S. and African markets. She will identify and develop relationships with emerging and established storytelling talent.

Johnson-Bekoe also co-founded two collectives – Black Women in Scripted, a mix of writers, producers, executives, as well as new industry talent, and The Colab, a diverse network for industry professionals.

DARE, which stands for diversity, allyship, representation and empowerment and aims to reflect those values on and off screen, was founded by Lawford (“Mandela, My Dad and Me,” “Cut From a Different Cloth,” both co-produced with Idris Elba, “Fiennes: Return to the Nile” for Nat Geo, and BAFTA-winning short film “The Black Cop”). Commissions since launching include “Crypto Queen,” (co-production with Tondowski Films), an unscripted series with Channel 4, Sky Germany and Fremantle directed by Rudolph Herzog and “Dalton’s Dream,” a feature documentary for BBC Storyville directed by Kim Longinotto and Franky Murray Brown, backed by the BFI’s Global Screen Fund and distributed by Dogwoof. 

Lawford said: “This has been a year in the making and well worth the wait. We’ve been quietly acquiring life rights, optioning books and articles with a view to creating international and impactful dramas and films, so securing someone of Cassandra’s calibre and dynamism provides us with the perfect opportunity to accelerate our presence in scripted genres. She has a truly impressive network of contacts in the U.K., America and Africa and has already secured unique access to some incredibly powerful and distinctive stories for DARE which we’re really excited to see develop over the coming months. Suffice to say that we’re delighted to welcome her into the DARE Pictures family.”

Johnson-Bekoe added: “Derren has paved the way for many successful and innovative creatives in the industry. I am proud to say I am one of these creatives; and bestowing the opportunity of head of scripted development for DARE Pictures to me, further establishes this legacy. I am truly looking forward to this next chapter – through my entrepreneurship and true passion for scripted, we are going to create subversive and revolutionary content.”

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