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How Richmond Writer Iris Bolling Created a Black Political Drama For Local TV


Iris Bolling isn’t afraid to figure things out as she goes.

When the self-published author decided she wanted to see a television show featuring some of her own characters, she started working on it. 

But she didn’t pitch the idea to a network executive or send a script to a Hollywood director. She bought airtime from a local Fox affiliate and assembled a cast and crew to produce an entire season of “The Heart,” a political drama set in Richmond. 

That was last year. The show is now ending its second season on Fox Richmond, with stepped-up production values and added star power from actor Tommy Ford, known for his role as Tommy on the sitcom “Martin.” 

Bolling, who released her 18th novel last month, says she and her team didn’t originally present the show to a network because they didn’t know how. They also wanted to get it right.

“First we wanted to make sure we could do it and do it successfully,” she says. “This year we have a product we will be presenting to several networks, as a matter of fact.”

The show is put together with a mostly Richmond-based cast and crew of 47. “I have a lot of people that believed in my story and believed in me. They pitched in … to help make it a reality,” she says. “When you have a project like this, you can’t do it by yourself.”

Author and producer Iris Bolling.
  • Author and producer Iris Bolling.

She describes “The Heart” as a political drama that centers on district attorney J.D. Harrison (Aaron Wiggins), who lives in Richmond and follows his journey to become president of the United States. 

The show is among several dramas on television that feature predominantly black casts, such as “Empire,” “Scandal” and “Power.” Some are known for their edgy content and shocking twists. Bolling thinks “The Heart” isn’t entirely different.

“You are going to have some shock value, but it’s not going to be over-the-top,” she says. “We’re going to give you a good drama, we’re going to give you a lot of suspense and we’re going to give you a lot of romance.”

Bolling was fortunate to have some shared friends with actor Ford. 

“Tommy was in town and a couple of his associates knew me and knew about the project,” she says. “They arranged for Tommy and I to meet. He said he’d love to be a part of it. It was actually really that simple.”

The season finale airs April 30, but Bolling wants to continue the journey. 

“I’m hoping that the networks will look at it and say: ‘Hey, this is a good story. We want to pick it up and continue to produce it for you,’” she says. “I would love for that to happen, but if it doesn’t it’s not going to stop me.” S

The season finale of “The Heart” airs Saturday, May 7, at 10 p.m. on Fox Richmond. Previous episodes can be seen at