Although African American viewers constitute a large segment of the soap opera-watching community as documented in a recent Conde Nast’s Portfolio article, little effort has been undertaken to tailor programming specifically for this audience.

In an effort to change that Los Angeles-based production company Restore Films recently initiated the web-based soap opera “Ahshse” with a storyline catering to Black culture.

Restore Films was launched last year by Toni Odom, who describes herself as a St. Louis, Mo. native, Marquette University grad, and proud sister of the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority. Odom is a veteran of the communications, entertainment, journalism, and public relations fields, and her background includes tenure at Disney Publishing in Chicago, and at radio station KSHE 95 in St. Louis.

After relocating to Los Angeles five years ago, she devoted her energies towards her own projects, and envisions Restore as a company dedicated to restoring Black people to the rightful place of dignity and respect they enjoyed in their African Motherland.

Towards that end, she has a number of projects in the works, including the just completed “A Deeded Legacy,” a documentary about the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority; “Ms. Hattie’s Story,” a bio-documentary on Academy Award-winning actress and Sigma Soror Hattie McDaniel, and an upcoming project on race relations from a White perspective.

“Ahshe,” the web drama, portrays the daily joys and sorrow of a group of young Black adults outside the categorization of accomplished professionals or street-level hustlers. The action revolves around the opening of an Afrocentric bookstore by Assata Grant, an ambitious African American female entrepreneur with a decidedly socially-conscious agenda.

Ahshe is a word from the Yoruba language of Western Africa which means “and so it is,” and Assata is committed to incorporating into her new enterprise the activism and ethnic awareness of the 1960s and the Civil Rights Movement.

Complicating the start of this business venture are the volatile relationships between Assata, her siblings and their surrounding social group. Reflecting the convoluted dynamic that is a staple of contemporary society, the plot includes issues of marital infidelity, gender confusion, and sexual orientation.

In addition to writing and directing each segment, Odom is the sole producer/financier. Helping her bring this story to life are director of photography Jason Michael Lopez, editor Engel Thedford, and a cast that includes Monique Wilson, Kimberly Lanchaster, Danielle Dunnigan and Prince Vaughn III.

Thus far, three episodes out of a planned 24 have been completed for the first season, and all may be accessed at the series website: http://www.ahshe.com.