Tembi Locke’s memoir about her love journey with her late husband is getting an onscreen adaptation with fictional characters similar to her and her family members.
From Scratch became a best-seller in 2019 when the actress opened up about meeting her chef husband Saro in Sicily while studying abroad in college and how they built their lives in Los Angeles in order for her to pursue her Hollywood dreams. When her husband succumbs to cancer, she finds herself as a single mother to an adopted daughter as they venture through Sicily to engage with her husband’s family and homeland without him.
The Netflix series debuts Oct. 21.
In the eight-episode miniseries, Zoe Saldaña plays Amy, a character like Tembi who’s a Black woman from Texas in Italy for her dramatic studies. Eugenio Mastrandrea plays Lino, a character like Saro who’s a Sicilian chef who falls for Amy and follows her to the U.S. where they build their family until his untimely death.
“When the book club was going to pick ‘From Scratch’ as its May ’19 book club pick, every day literally I wake up and I’m like, ‘I don’t know how, but thank you, just thank you,’ because it has been such a gift,” Tembi said at a Netflix sneak peek event. “They have been incredible collaborators. They have believed in every aspect of this story, every frame of it, everything that we wanted to do, and they have really given us as sisters this platform to put this book on a bigger canvas.”
Attica Locke, who’s an award-winning mystery novelist and screenwriter who worked on Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere based on Celeste Ng’s novel, joined her sister Tembi to bring the family love story to the screen.
“I think there is a beautifully absurd family dynamic at the heart of it, and it touches on everybody. And all of our families has some element of the absurd to them underneath our love,” Attica said. “There’s love of food. There’s love of my culture. There’s love of music. And we wanted to show kind of every aspect of it. I don’t think there’s any dyad. I don’t think there’s any relationship between two people that doesn’t hit a bump over the course… including the sisters hit a bump that they have to kind of have to get through and decide in the time that we have left, how do we want to spend it together as a family?”
The miniseries covers a yearslong journey of a character falling in love then learning to preserve that love, Tembi said.
“We wanted to render life in its fullest sense, and here’s a woman coming into her womanhood and all that that means with it and owning all of who she is and the arc of her journey of self-discovery,” she said.
Due to her proximity to the true story, Attica said she’s learning how to tell stories more authentically through book and TV projects.
“I would hope that, and what I think is happening in my life, is that through the books and through the television shows that I’ve worked on, that I’m getting closer to and more comfortable with telling the truth,” Attica said. “What telling stories that have fundamental truth in them. And whereas I may have been more shy as a younger writer about saying something that is clearly my point of view that I believed to be the kind of truth of something in the world.”
As for a non-spoiler, Tembi said the first time the character based on her goes to the restaurant owned by the character based on her late husband and receives a cooked meal is pure magic. “You cannot have a series called ‘From Scratch’ without that moment.”