A new drama series detailing the story of a former Philadelphia drug queenpin is coming to USA Network, courtesy of R&B star Mary J. Blige.
Blige will serve as an executive producer on the upcoming series Philly Reign, which is inspired by the life of South Philadelphia native Thelma Wright, according to a Variety report. Wright and her son, Jacky, will co-executive produce the series alongside Blige. Empire’s JaNeika and JaSheika James will write the show’s script, as well as serve as co-executive producers.
Now a motivational speaker, Wright formerly led one of the nation’s largest heroin and cocaine trafficking organizations in the 1980s and early 1990s. She previously discussed her time in the illegal drug trade in her 2011 book, With Eyes from Both Sides: Living My Life In and Out of the Game, which serves as source material for the upcoming TV series.
Wright became involved in drug trafficking following the murder of her husband, Howard “Jackie” Wright, a former Black Mafia member and major drug dealer who was found dead in a house in Germantown in August 1986, partially rolled up in a carpet with a gunshot wound to his head, according to an Inquirer report. Dennis Rogers, an alleged area drug dealer, was convicted of Jackie Wright’s murder in 1994, court documents indicate.
With her husband dead, Variety reports, Wright was left with the choices of either allowing her family to starve, or get involved in the “family business.” Wright opted for the latter, but ultimately left the drug game in 1991 after being caught up in a shootout at a West Philadelphia nightclub.
According to a 2017 article from the Huffington Post, Wright quickly found work as a receptionist, and later began working at a nonprofit organization that focused on helping women struggling with drug addiction. By 2011, she came clean in her book, and later launched the Thelma Wright Foundation, which benefits at-risk women and teen girls.
“I’ve been distributing the drugs and I’ve been involved in that upper echelon of drug dealing,” Wright told HuffPo in 2017. “And now I’ve had an opportunity to see the destruction that the drugs beget.”