Disney+ and National Geographic today announced the cast of the original series “Genius: MLK/X,” produced by 20th Television, Imagine Television and Undisputed Cinema: Kelvin Harrison Jr. (“The Chicago Seven”) will play Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Aaron Pierre (“The Underground Railroad”) will be Malcolm X, Weruche Opia (“I May Destroy You”) will play the role of Coretta Scott King and Jayme Lawson (“The Batman”) that of Betty Shabazz. Filming will begin in October 2022 in Atlanta.
“We are beyond thrilled to have brought together the incredible quartet of Kelvin, Aaron, Jayme and Weruche to bring depth, complexity and humanity to these indelible icons,” the Bythewoods said. “They are all next level in their chops and their passion for telling this story. »
Once is not custom, the fourth season of genius will be devoted to two personalities, the Reverend Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.genius:MLK-X will return to the youth, the revolutionary actions, the diametrically opposed strategies and the intimate circle of the two men. While the first fought for the equality of all ethnicities before the law through non-violent demonstrations, Malcolm X argued forcefully for the emancipation, identity distinction and self-determination of blacks. Supported by extraordinary women, their wives, Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz, they have become synonymous with the civil rights era and the struggle for social and economic justice. Although they only met once and often aired their differences, neither would have been so successful without the other.
In addition to the casting announcement, executive producers Reggie Rock Bythewood and Gina Prince-Bythewood announced they are working with a think tank of renowned historians and experts serving as production consultants before the start of the writing phase to guide the production. Among them are (in alphabetical order):
- Jamal Joseph (“Panther Baby: A Life of Rebellion and Reinvention”), a former member of the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army, is a writer, director, and professor at Columbia University School of the Arts.
- Peniel E. Joseph is a writer whose book, “The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.”, serves as inspiration for the series
- Michele Norris is a columnist and consultant for Post Opinions and founding director of the exchange group The Race Card Project.
- Dr. Kameelah Rashad is the founder and president of the Muslim Wellness Foundation (MWF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting healing and emotional well-being in the American Muslim community.
- Dr. Barbara Reynolds is an award-winning journalist, author, and minister who has written several books, including “Jesse Jackson, America’s David” and “No, I Won’t Shut Up: 30 Years of Telling It Like It Is,” with a preface by Coretta Scott King.
- Ambassador Shabazz, producer, writer, diplomat and eldest daughter of Dr. Betty Shabazz and Malcolm X Shabazz, is also a consulting producer for the series.
- Jeff Stetson, whose play “The Meeting” serves as the inspiration for the series, is an internationally acclaimed award-winning playwright and screenwriter for film and television. He is also an executive producer of the series.
- Jeanne Theoharis, professor of political science at the City University of New York, is the author or co-author of eleven books and numerous articles on civil rights and Black Power movements.
- Pastor Michael A. Walrond, Jr., Senior Pastor of First Corinthian Baptist Church, has received numerous honors, honors and recognitions, including induction into the Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers at Morehouse College.
“We wanted to bring together a consortium of scholars and experts who can not only contribute their vast knowledge, expertise and research, but also create a space for meaningful debate and discussion to ensure an honest representation of the complexities of these iconic geniuses. . Martin and Malcolm’s legacies are central to our understanding of social justice movements today, so we had to get it right. We couldn’t have asked for a more amazing group to guide us through their stories,” the Bythewoods added.
Additionally, Channing Godfrey Peoples has been named co-executive producer and will direct the pilot episode of “Genius: MLK/X.” She made her directorial debut with “Miss Juneteenth,” for which she received the coveted National Board of Review Award for Best Debut Picture and was also rewarded with multiple Gotham Award and Film Independent Spirit Award nominations. , among others. His TV credits include Apple TV+’s “Roar” and HBO Max’s “Generation” for directing and OWN’s “Queen Sugar” for screenwriting. »
For Imagine Television, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard are executive producers. For Undisputed Cinema, Reggie Rock Bythewood, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Francie Calfo are executive producers. Raphael Jackson Jr. and Damione Macedon serve as showrunners and executive producers. For MWM Studios, Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane serve as executive producers. For EUE/Sokolow, Sam Sokolow serves as executive producer. Jeff Stetson (“The Meeting”) is writing the pilot in addition to his role as executive producer. Channing Godfrey Peoples will direct and also serve as co-executive producer. Ambassador Shabazz is a consulting producer.
Kelvin Harrison Jr. is known for bringing some of the most dynamic and diverse characters to life on screens. He has built an impressive list of leading roles for which he has won several awards (SAG and AAFCA) and several BAFTA, Independent Spirit and Gotham Award nominations. He can be found in A24’s “It Comes at Night”, Neon’s “Luce”, A24’s drama “Waves”, Oscar®-nominated “The Seven from Chicago”, Focus Feature’s “The High Note”, among others. and the Joe Wright-directed film “Cyrano.” More recently, he played BB King in Baz Lurhmann’s “Elvis”. Harrison Jr. will soon star in Fox Searchlight’s “Chevalier,” a biopic about French classical composer and virtuoso violinist Chevalier de Saint-Georges, which will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. He’ll also star as Scar in Barry Jenkin’s prequel to Disney’s “Lion King.”
Aaron Peter, a graduate of London’s prestigious LAMDA, was nominated for the 2018 Ian Charleson Award for his stage debut as Cassio in ‘Othello’, opposite Mark Rylance at Shakespeare’s Globe. He recently played Caesar in Barry Jenkins’ award-winning limited series “The Underground Railroad” for Amazon and starred in M. Night Shyamalan’s film “Old,” in which he portrays a rapper and recorded a song for. His latest film, “Brother,” Clement Virgo’s adaptation of David Chariandy’s novel, is the story of two Jamaican-Canadian brothers whose dreams are shattered by the harsh reality of 1990s Scarborough. The film recently had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it received rave reviews. Aaron Pierre also received the prestigious TIFF Rising Star Award in honor of his body of work. He also recorded the voice of Mufasa in Barry Jenkins’ highly anticipated prequel to Disney’s ‘Lion King’ and will star in Jeremy Saulnier’s ‘Rebel Ridge’ for Netflix. We will also soon see him in one of the main roles opposite Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal in the feature film “Foe” by Garth Davis for Amazon Studios.
Weruche Opia starred as Terry in the HBO series “I May Destroy You” in 2019. For her work, Opia received a BAFTA TV nomination for Best Supporting Actress as well as a Film Independent Spirit Award. She has also appeared in ‘Our House’, ‘Top Boy’ and the hit BBC Inside show ‘Number 9’. She began her career in the hit BBC comedy ‘Bad Education’ and also starred in the film adaptation. On stage, she performed in ‘Liberian Girl’ at the Royal Court to critical acclaim.
We can currently see Jayme Lawson in theaters alongside Viola Davis and Joh Boyega in Sony/Columbia’s “The Woman King.” She appears in director Chinonye Chukwu’s ‘Till’ and co-stars with Sasha Lane in Daniel Goldhaber’s ‘How to Blow Up a Pipeline’, which premiered at TIFF. She starred as Bella Real in Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” for Warner Bros. She made her film debut in the Sundance feature film “Farewell Amor”.
geniusby National Geographic retraces the destinies of particularly brilliant personalities, and looks back as much on their extraordinary achievements as their personal relationships, often as passionate as they are complex. The first season, devoted to Albert Einstein in 2017, won ten nominations for the Emmy Awards (including that of the best miniseries), the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards (for Geoffrey Rush, the interpreter of the main role). The next one, Genius: Picasso, achieved similar success, with seven Emmy Award nominations (and two wins), and Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for Antonio Banderas. The third installment, Genius: Arethahad National Geographic’s highest ratings since 2018. Cynthia Erivo, who played Aretha Franklin, was nominated for Emmys, Critics Choice and Golden Globes.
Kelvin Harrison Jr. is represented by WME, Anonymous Content, Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano Law Firm and Presse PR. Aaron Pierre is represented by WME, Anonymous Content, Hamilton Hodell, Sloane Offer Weber & Dern and Narrative. Jayme Lawson is represented by UTA, Gang Tire Ramer Brown & Passman and Shelter PR. Weruche Opia is represented by Curtis Brown, Anonymous Content and Sloan, Offer, Weber & Dern. Channing Godfrey Peoples is represented by CAA, Entertainment 360 and Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz.
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TV SERIES | Disney +: here is the cast of the original series “Genius: MLK / X”