HBO announced Academy Award-nominated actors, a major civil rights activist and more famous Black personalities as cast members for its upcoming adaptation of Baltimore-bred author Ta-Nehisi Coates’ bestselling book, “Between the World and Me.”
According to a press release, the first round of announced cast members include media mogul Oprah Winfrey, Black Lives Matter Global Network co-founder Alicia Garza, and rapper Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter of The Roots. The list also includes acclaimed actors and actresses like Angela Bassett (“Black Panther”) and her husband Courtney B. Vance (”The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story), Joe Morton (”Scandal”), Phylicia Rashad (”The Cosby Show”), Pauletta Washington (”Genius: Aretha Franklin”) and Susan Kelechi Watson (”This Is Us”).
Coates, an acclaimed journalist, author, essayist and cultural commentator, is originally from Baltimore. “Between the World and Me,” which hit the top spot on the The New York Times Best Sellers list soon after its 2015 release, takes on the form of a letter to Coates’ son. It draws upon United States history, his own Baltimore upbringing and more to explore the centrality of anti-Black racism to the fabric of the country. It is heralded as a contemporary classic for its style and dissection of racial injustice.
The HBO special, which will debut at a still-unannounced date this fall, is based off of a critically acclaimed 2018 stage adaptation originally performed at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York City. It will be directed by Apollo Theater executive producer Kamilah Forbes, who also did the stage version. It will incorporate narrative elements, dramatic readings and documentary footage from the cast members’ lives, along with animation and archival footage.