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'Diarra from Detroit,' created by Diarra Kilpatrick, offers a fresh take on the detective genre

Diarra Kilpatrick recalls writing for NBC's Debra Messing procedural “The Mysteries of Laura” when she got feedback from the network over wanting to have Messing's character, a homicide detective with the NYPD, out on a date.

“The network was like, ‘Do people hate her? There are still criminals at large.” And I remember thinking, ’What? She has to have something for her," Kilpatrick said recently over Zoom.

A date is now at the center of a new comedic mystery series Kilpatrick created, executive produces and stars in for BET+ called “Diarra from Detroit.”

Kilpatrick ( "Perry Mason ") plays a school teacher — also named Diarra — who is going through a divorce and has returned to her childhood home. She meets a man on the dating app Tinder and the two spend the night together. When Diarra doesn't hear from him again, her friends say she's been ghosted, but her conclusion is that something must be wrong and launches an investigation. This amateur sleuthing leads Diarra into dangerous situations.

Ghosting, says Kilpatrick, “is something that happens to all my girlfriends. They talk about it with such ease. They’re like, ‘I was talking to this guy, and then he ghosted. And so then I was talking to that guy, and then I ghosted.’ It’s such a prolific act. I feel like no one’s really talking about what it’s saying about us as a society, that we just aren’t communicating with each other anymore.”

Kenya Barris, creator of hit shows such as “black-ish” and "grown-ish," is also an executive producer on the series. Barris is a partner at BET Studios and “Diarra from Detroit” is its first scripted series.

Kilpatrick recalls first meeting Barris at the NAACP Awards in 2017 where he told her he had read one of her scripts.

“That was such a big moment for me because I was like, ‘How on earth would you ever have time to read my script?'" recalled Kilpatrick. “It was years before it turned into anything but was just kind of that Black Hollywood ‘How do you do’ turning into something that’s amazing.”

Like her TV character, Kilpatrick is from Detroit and her last name is familiar. Kilpatrick's father is Bernard Kilpatrick and her half-brother is disgraced former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick who was convicted in 2013 on corruption charges. He served more than seven years of a 28 year sentence and was granted clemency by President Trump in 2021. The elder Fitzpatrick, who worked on political campaigns including his son's mayoral bid and former Gov. Jennifer Granholm's 2002 campaign, was also convicted in 2013 of tax fraud and spent 10 months in prison.

Kilpatrick says she's aware that questions will come up about her family now that she's in the spotlight.

”I'm prepared for it," she said. "I do realize that in order to amplify my voice, I have to amplify my face, too. And that’s just going to come with the territory.”

Kilpatrick attributes spending time with her dad growing up that helped her to learn about the different neighborhoods of Detroit and to appreciate its people.

"I say I’m from all of Detroit because on the weekends, it was very common for my dad to be running a campaign or something, and me to be in the campaign office with him or going canvassing, passing out literature in a neighborhood, asking people to vote for this person or that person. So I saw a lot of the city, and I had a really warm point of view on it.”