Toronto-born producer Veena Sud tackles U.S. racial tensions with Seven Seconds

A new Netflix crime drama explores the racial tensions resulting from police misconduct in the U.S. — and it was created by a Canadian.

New Toronto-shot Netflix crime drama stars Beau Knapp, Regina King and Russell Hornsby

Toronto-born writer-producer Veena Sud says she came up with the idea for Seven Seconds'after 'turning on the television and seeing black men and young children being shot almost on a nightly basis.' (JoJo Whilden/Netflix/Canadian Press)

A new Netflix crime drama explores the racial tensions resulting from police misconduct in the U.S. — and it was created by a Canadian.

Toronto-born writer-producer Veena Sud, whose previous credits include the The Killing, says she came up with the idea for Seven Seconds after "turning on the television and seeing black men and young children being shot almost on a nightly basis." 

Launching Friday, the anthology series stars Beau Knapp as a white New Jersey cop who accidentally hits a black teenager with his car. His cop colleagues stage a coverup, resulting in racial tensions in the city as the case unfolds.

Other cast members include Regina King and Russell Hornsby as the teen's parents, and Clare-Hope Ashitey as the troubled assistant prosecutor. 
Actors Clare-Hope Ashitey and Michael Mosley and creator and executive producer Veena Sud, centre, at the Netflix and Color of Change special screening and Q&A for Seven Seconds on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles. (Charley Gallay/Netflix/Getty Images)

"Turning on the television and seeing on the nightly news over and over and over this tragedy happening really spoke to me," said Sud, who lives in Los Angeles.

"It was post-Ferguson, the murder of Michael Brown; post-Baltimore, the killing of Freddie Gray; and watching the courage of an (attorney) like Marilyn Mosby in Baltimore trying to take on the system and bring to justice the officers who had killed a man."

Show has diverse writers' room, Sud says

Seven Seconds has "one of the most diverse if not the most diverse writers' room in the industry," Sud said.

"African-American, Latino, Asian-Pacific Islander, white — and the white writers are the minority — half women," she added.

"We're not doing it because someone is telling us to do it but doing it because these are the best writers out there ... and that's something that our industry and every industry in America has to start opening its doors to all of the talent, not just a few." 

Sud's other upcoming projects include a dark family drama film starring Cas Anvar, Peter Sarsgaard and Joey King.

She recently shot it in Toronto, where she grew up until age two, when her family moved to the U.S.

"I'm still Canadian but it's the first time I've been back in Toronto since then, so it's special being back," Sud said.

When conversation turned to how her Twitter handle says "Canadian-born," Sud added with a laugh: "I definitely am not proud of being American right now."