Is ‘Black Cake’ Based on a True Story? The History Behind the Hulu Drama

Hulu’s drama ‘Black Cake’ isn’t based on a true story. However, the cake at the center of the miniseries has deep, authentic roots.

Elizabeth Randolph - Author

Nov. 16 2023, Published 5:36 p.m. ET

Mia Isaac as Covey Lyncook 'Black Cake'
Source: Hulu

The Gist:

  • Hulu’s Black Cake aired on the streamer on Nov. 1, 2023.
  • The series isn’t based on a true story but was adapted from Charmaine Wilkerson’s book of the same name.
  • Charmaine’s book was inspired by her family’s Jamaican roots
  • Black cake is a Caribbean staple dessert
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When Oprah Winfrey gets behind a TV show, you might as well just pop some popcorn and put your phone on Do Not Disturb because it WILL not disappoint.

On Nov. 1, 2023, the mogul’s executive-produced project, Black Cake, aired on Hulu, leaving streaming fans at the edge of their seats from the first few scenes. Black Cake stars Woman of the Movement star Adrienne Warren and Top Boy’s Bashy as siblings Benny and Byron, respectively.

In Black Cake, Benny and Byron discover their mother, Eleanor Bennett (Chipo Chung), died with life-changing secrets that forever change what they thought their family was. As those watching the miniseries on Hulu uncover Eleanor’s secrets with her children, it’s difficult to imagine this show isn’t a figment of one’s imagination.

So, is Black Cake based on a true story? Here’s what to know!

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(l-r): Bashy and Adrienne Warren as Byron and Benny on 'Black Cake'
Source: Hulu

Is ‘Black Cake’ based on a true story?

As Black Cake airs new episodes on Hulu, many people watching the series have shared how accurate it is to the Black/Caribbean experience.

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The series tackles a wide variety of issues still plaguing the communities today, including burying family secrets, first-generation children’s expectations from their parents, and the stigma of homosexuality in the Black community. But, while the series has many familiar themes, Black Cake is not based on a true story.

(l-r): Mia Isaac and Ahmed Elhaj as Covey and Gibbs 'Black Cake'
Source: Hulu
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Black Cake, the television series, is an adaptation of Charmaine Wilkerson’s February 2022 debut novel of the same name. Yes, you read that right. According to its synopsis, the book is “a story of how the inheritance of betrayals, secrets, memories, and even names can shape relationships and history.”

However, Eleanor, who changed her name from Covey Lyncook and then Coventina Brown (Mia Isaac) to escape a teen marriage, didn’t exist in real life. Benny, Byron, and all the other characters in the book and the series are also fictional.

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Faith Alabi cooking as Pearl on 'Black Cake'
Source: Hulu

The cake that inspired the ‘Black Cake’ series and book is 100 percent true.

Although the Black Cake series and book are fictional, the traditional cake at the story's center is true to Charmaine Wilkerson’s culture.

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At the beginning of the Hulu series, Eleanor’s lawyer, played by Glynn Turman, tells Benny and Byron she recorded seven tapes telling them the story of her upbringing, something she had never shared with them when she was alive. In addition to the recording, Eleanor left her children a note telling her beloved “B&B” that she made one of her famous Black cakes for them to “sit down and share the cake together when the time is right.”

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Eleanor’s famous Black cake is a staple dessert in the Caribbean made with rum that gives it a dark, Black color. According to the food blog My Forking Life, the dish is served in Caribbean households on holidays and special occasions.

Charmaine, a former journalist whose mother was born and raised in Jamaica in the West Indies, said Black cake had always been a go-to dessert in her family. As an aspiring author, she became inspired to tell a multigenerational story with the cake as the epicenter.

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“This is a novel, it’s multigenerational, and I can see a great deal of symbolism tied to this cake,” Charmaine explained to Eater in December 2022. “Even though this is a fictional story — not autobiographical, wildly inventive — the emotions and ideas of transferring culture and stories through food, that’s a real thing.”

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