Diarra From Detroit: Is the BET+ Show a True Story? Where is it Filmed?

Image Credit: Vanessa Clifton/BET+

Created by Diarra Kilpatrick, BET+’s ‘Diarra From Detroit’ is a comedy-drama series that stars Kilpatrick as Diarra Brickland, a divorced public school teacher who has a satirical sense of humor. In the midst of her divorce, her Tinder date ghosts her but refusing to believe that, she thinks that there is more to it than what appears. Soon, she learns that the man has been missing so she takes it upon herself to go looking for him.

During her search for the missing man, Diarra finds herself in the middle of a decades-old mystery involving the dangerous underworld of Detroit. Meanwhile, her friends and co-workers come through for her as they support her in her endeavor for the truth. Besides Kilpatrick, ‘Diarra From Detroit’ also features other actors, including Morris Chestnut, Phylicia Rashad, Morris Chestnut, DomiNque Perry, Claudia Logan, and Bryan Terrell Clark. Set in Detroit, the mystery show consists of certain storylines and characters that are too real for the screen. So you might not only have questions regarding the authenticity of the tale but also that of the filming sites.

Diarra From Detroit is Somewhat Inspired by True Events

While the inspiration for writing ‘Diarra From Detroit’ came from some aspects of reality, the story is the product of Diarra Kilpatrick’s own imagination and creativity. Creator Kilpatrick, who also wrote the screenplay for ‘Diarra From Detroit,’ reportedly derived some inspiration from a few shows she used to watch in her childhood with her grandmother. While writing the BET+ show, Kilpatrick remembered her grandmother’s “running witticisms” and instilled some of her characteristics into her characters. Viewing it as an opportunity, Kilpatrick through her portrayal of the titular character manages to showcase all the elements that are associated with real-life Detroit.

In an interview with BET, Kilpatrick explained, “Often, we fail to find stories that acknowledge Detroit’s gritty aspects or the fact that the hood can be a dangerous place. But just as there are gangs, violence, and challenges, there’s also an inherent comedy within the Black community. Sometimes, the harshest circumstances bring forth the funniest punchlines, like tales shared at family reunions. We wanted to honor that unique essence.” Brian Terrell Clark, who portrays gay Earth science teacher Mr. Tea in ‘Diarra From Detroit,’ admitted that he and Kilpatrick had been friends since 2007 and she based the character directly on him.

During a conversation with The Queer Review, Brian stated, “It’s funny because there are lines in the first episode that I literally said to her out loud that ended up on the page! One of the things that I thought was really important was that he didn’t fall into a lot of the tropes and stereotypes that we see with the gay best friend character. He’s not the sassy gay best friend. He is a truth-teller, so he gets great one-liners, but they’re grounded. What was really important for me was that in her group of friends, every single one of them has a love interest and I wanted to make sure that Mr. Tea got a love interest as well. So we get a little peek in this first season, not only of him having a real relationship with someone but also his point of view around relationships.” To reiterate, since ‘Diarra From Detroit’ has a few roots in reality when it comes to the characters and storylines, it is somewhat a representation of the real world through a fictional tale.

Diarra From Detroit Shooting Locations

‘Diarra From Detroit’ is filmed in New Jersey and Michigan, especially in Secaucus, Moonachie, Roselle, Woodbridge Township, Carlstadt, Patterson, Newark, and Detroit. According to reports, principal photography for the inaugural iteration of the comedy series got underway in late January 2023 and wrapped up in three months or so, in April of the same year.

Secaucus, New Jersey

The town of Secaucus is one of the prominent sites in the state of New Jersey that serves as a filming site for ‘Diarra in Detroit.’ During the shooting schedule of season 1, the production team was spotted taping several key portions in and around AJ’s Go Go Nightclub and Sports Bar at 201 Secaucus Road in Secaucus.

Other Locations in New Jersey

For the purpose of shooting, the filming unit of ‘Diarra From Detroit’ also travels to other locations across New Jersey, including the borough of Moonachie, Paterson, Newark, and seemingly the borough of Carlstadt. Moreover, several pivotal sequences for the comedy series are lensed on Chandler Avenue in the borough of Roselle and around the Woodbridge Center Mall at 250 Woodbridge Center Drive in Woodbridge Township. The makers did their best to make these New Jersey locations look and feel like Detroit.

Detroit, Michigan

A few establishing and other exterior shots of ‘Diarra From Detroit’ are also taped on location, in the Motor City itself. Situated in Wayne County, Detroit has hosted the production of numerous movies and TV shows over the years. Some of the notable ones include ‘Beverly Hills Cop,’ ‘Up in the Air,’ ‘Only Lovers Left Alive,’ and ‘Hung.’

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