Nas To Develop New Series About Maurice Ashley, The First Black Chess Grandmaster


March 14, 2024

Nas is developing a television series to highlight a little known but very inspiring Black history icon.

The rapper has teamed up with Power executive producer Mark Canton to create a biographical series based on the life and victories of Maurice Ashley, the first Black International Chess Grandmaster. “I’m grateful to be part of bringing Maurice Ashley’s incredible life to the screen,” Nas said to Deadline. “His story is one of greatness and his perseverance will continue to inspire the next generation of thinkers.” 

The eight-episode series will be a scripted retelling of Ashley’s life from his childhood in New York City to his discovery of the game of chess and his eventual mastery.


“I’m so humbled to have my story told and so grateful that Nas has embraced this project,” Ashley said of the upcoming series. “It is not just a story about me, it’s about the community of people who have influenced and enriched my life, too. 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.” 

Ashley was born in Jamaica in 1966 and moved to Brooklyn at the age of 12. He started playing chess at age 14 while in high school and rose through the ranks to become an International Grandmaster in 1999, the first Black man to ever earn the title. He went on to found the Harlem Chess Center and he currently coaches other players, leading several to national championships. He published Chess For Success in 2005 and will soon release Move By Move and The Life Changing Magic Of Chess. In 2016, Ashley was inducted into the United States Chess Hall Of Fame.

“It’s a happy story about doing something that no-one expected and taking the road less traveled, which is always exciting for me,” the Grandmaster shared about his life and the series. “I think this is a story that will resonate with a broad audience as it speaks to living your dreams and shocking the world.”


Cover photo: Nas To Develop New Series About Maurice Ashley, The First Black Chess Grandmaster / Photo credit: Hennessy/CNBC

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