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As Freeform is formally launched today, the network formerly known as ABC Family has announced that production began this week for the scripted comedy Nicki from executive producer Nicki Minaj. Directed by Tim Story (“Ride Along,” “Think Like a Man”) and shot in Queens, New York, “Nicki” stars Ariana Neal (“Get Hard,” “Fruitvale Station”), Selita Ebanks (“Real Husbands of Hollywood“), Wesley Jonathan (“The Soul Man”) and McCarrie McCausland (“Army Wives,” “The Originals”). Whoopi Goldberg and J.B. Smoove will guest star in the first episode.

The single-camera comedy is inspired by the story of Minaj and her family’s immigration from Trinidad in the 1990s, her growing up in Queens, New York, with her vibrant family, and the personal and musical evolution that lead to her eventual rise to stardom. In October, ABC Family announced a series commitment for the half-hour comedy.

Kate Angelo (“Sex Tape,” “Will and Grace,” “Bernie Mac”) penned the pilot and will write and executive-produce the series. Minaj, Aaron Kaplan (“Life in Pieces,” “Kevin From Work”), Stella Bulochnikov and Brian Sher (“Boss”), and Gee Roberson will also serve as executive producers.