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Photo via OkayAfrica's 100 Women.

Focus Features Has Set Production on Harriet Tubman Biopic Starring Cynthia Erivo

The cast for the film directed by Kasi Lemmons has also been rounded out.

The opportunity to see the story of legendary abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the big screen will be even more of a reality soon, Deadline reports.

Focus Features has set production on Harriet, which will star Nigerian-British powerhouse Cynthia Erivo, who's set to play the title role. The film will be directed by Kasi Lemmons, who co-wrote the screenplay with Gregory Allen Howard.

The cast has been rounded out as well, as Erivo will be joined by Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, Jennifer Nettles and Clarke Peters.

Harriet will portray Tubman's escape from slavery and her several missions to free dozens of enslaved people through the Underground Railroad in the face of growing pre-Civil War adversity.


"This is the story of a seemingly powerless woman who accomplished the extraordinary to save her loved ones, and in the process became a leader of and inspiration for her people," producers Debra Martin Chase and Daniela Taplin Lundberg say to Deadline. "While Harriet Tubman is a household name, most people don't know the breadth of her story—not only was she a conductor on the Underground Railroad, but she was a spy for the Union army and remains one of the few women to have led an armed expedition in US history."

We caught up with Erivo, who's also an OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree, in a video interview last year, where she touches on the role when the news was fresh:

"I am going to be playing Harriet Tubman in the biopic which is still something that I'm trying to process. I've been learning about her and found out that she's 4 foot 11 [inches]...and she was incredibly, physically very, very strong. Those things are [what] will inform how I'll play her."

Watch the insightful clip in full below.

Production starts next month in Virginia. Focus Features will handle global distribution of the film with Universal Pictures International.

Shadow and Act also notes that when the film was first announced, MACRO was on one of the backers of the film with Charles D. King as an executive producer. This is no longer, though Chase, Lundberg and Howard will still be the original producers.

Interview
Photo: Shaughn Cooper

Ras Nebyu Is Washington, D.C.'s 'Uptown Lion Walkin'

We talk to the Ethiopian-American rapper about his new album, his Washington Slizzards crew, and the impact of gentrification on D.C.'s music scene.

Ras Nebyu is caught up in the crowd at Howard University's homecoming tailgate, where he can barely walk a block without shaking hands with another person who he knows. Although he didn't attend Howard University, the campus and the surrounding neighborhood forms as much of a part of his narrative as any student.

The Ethiopian-American rapper hails from uptown Washington, D.C., a neighborhood he uses to inform his latest album, Uptown Lion Walkin, a project that pays homage to his ancestral upbringing, as well as his thoughts on making money, love, happiness, and the government.

There's a twoness to Nebyu's identity that allows him to create from a place of historical-cultural reverence while pushing forward new ideas. He was raised in a Rastafarian household by an Ethiopian dad and African-American mother.

Nebyu doesn't hold much back when he speaks, like his music. He preaches about belonging to his community, gentrification and the diaspora. His work serves as a strong soundboard, for not only his Ethiopian community but D.C. natives.

In 2011, Nebyu co-founded the Washington Slizzards, a collective of Ethiopian creatives in D.C. What started as a joke, tacking on "slizz" to everything, became a buzz-worthy crew. Around the same time as the group's inception, he began releasing music into the world.

Nebyu first ventured into making music as a producer, but soon found it frustrating getting artists to use his beats. He decided to begin experimenting with using his own voice and hasn't slowed down since. OkayAfrica caught up with Nebyu to discuss the new album and growing up uptown.

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Audio

Mr Eazi, Duncan Mighty, Afro B & Mayorkun Join DJ Neptune On 'Tear Rubber' Remix

Listen to the "All Star Remix" now.

"Tear Rubber," one of the standouts from DJ Neptune's latest album, Greatness, gets a big remix that'll jump start your week.

The track, which originally featured Mayorkun, now gets a massive revisit featuring Mr Eazi, Duncan Mighty and Afro B.

All three are potent additions to this laid-back and addictive Young John-produced track which was already getting a lot of spins.

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popular

Listen to Sade's Beautiful New Song—'The Big Unknown'

Sade has graced us with her second single of the year—this time for Steve McQueen's highly anticipated film, "Widows."

We now have two new Sade songs to shed thug tears to before the end of 2018, y'all.

The queen herself released a lyric video for her new track, "The Big Unknown." This single will be played during the end credits of Steve McQueen's highly anticipated film, Widows, which is due to be released in theaters November 16, Highsnobiety reports.

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