News Brief
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
Image supplied.

Interview: How Stogie T’s ‘Freestyle Friday’ Became a TV Show

Freestyle Friday started as lockdown content but is now a fully-fledged TV show on Channel O. In this interview, Stogie T breaks down why the show is revolutionary and talks about venturing into media.

When South Africa was put under a hard lockdown in 2020, Stogie T started Freestyle Friday to "make SA rap again." Freestyle Friday, hosted on Instagram, saw a different cohort of rappers each rap over the same beat picked by the veteran rapper. From niche and emerging rappers to some of the most notable names in South African hip-hop—the likes of AKA, Focalistic, Ginger Trill and several others all participated.

In the last few weeks, however, Freestyle Friday has found its way to cable TV. The show airs every Friday on Channel O, one of the continent's longest-running music TV channels. Freestyle Friday as a TV programme isn't just about freestyles, it's about the art of rapping and the music business, particularly SA hip-hop. Guests range from lyricists to record executives and other personalities aligned with the scene—Ninel Musson and Ms Cosmo for instance.

But Freestyle Friday is only the first media product Stogie T is working on as he is in the process of starting a podcast network, a venture in which he is collaborating with Culture Capital. In the Q&A below, Stogie T breaks down the relationship with Culture Capital, how the show moved from the internet to TV, why it's a revolutionary idea, touches on his venture into media and his future plans.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Interview: Made Kuti Talks Afrobeat, Activism & Family Legacy

We speak with Made about his debut album and the part he's playing in keeping the Kuti heritage alive.