Nearly forty years after Roots debuted on national television, the History Channel has brought the iconic story back to the forefront of our nation’s consciousness. History’s re-imagining of one of the highest-rated TV shows of all time “will allow new audiences to experience this epic family saga with a new vision that is both inspiring and tremendously entertaining.”
Paul Buccieri, President of A&E and History said, “We are proud that HISTORY will be able to bring new life to this powerful story that remains as important today as it did when the original ‘Roots’ first premiered.”
In the video clip above, LeVar Burton, Co-Executive Producer of History’s reimagined Roots, sat down with Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, to discuss the new version of Roots during a Q&A at the White House.
“Roots for many reasons shaped both my life and my career — it was as a result of Roots and having been in Roots that I was shown really the potential power of the medium of television,” Burton said.
He added, “In eight consecutive nights, Roots transformed this nation around its idea of what we mean when we talk about slavery.”
Reimagining The Iconic Miniseries
NewsOne Now caught up with Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose, Mark Wolper, son of the original producer of the 1977 ABC miniseries, and Will Packer, one of the executive producers of the new series, to discuss the reimagining of Roots.
During their chat with NewsOne Now, Rose explained the notion of reimagining the iconic miniseries. She said in 2016, we “have a lot more information at our fingertips to utilize with regard to the pre-America story, what was in Africa, what was alive there.”
She added, “That’s not the only thing that we get to expound upon, but it’s something that’s a really big deal because people often have a picture of Africa now and then that is a place of deprivation or a place of less than, and that simply just isn’t the case. It was a place of the beginning.”
Bridging The Gap Between Kunta Kinte Past And Present
LeVar Burton and Malachi Kirby discuss the role of Kunta Kinte in the original, as well as History’s reimagined Roots.
During their chat with NewsOne Now, Kirby explained the first decision that he made once he was selected for the role was to “stay as far away” from Burton’s portrayal of Kunta Kinte so that he could arrive in the role with his own integrity, interpretation, and understanding – just as his predecessor did in the original miniseries.
Burton, who starred as Kunta Kinte in the original series in 1977, told NewsOne Now that he is not a fan of remakes, but once he was convinced Roots needed to be revamped for a new generation, he was onboard. Burton said, “There is a whole generation of Americans that don’t know their story and need to know it.”
He added, “Human beings have a very short memories — those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Will Packer Breaks Down Why Roots Needed A Remake
Will Packer, co-executive producer of the reimagined Roots, shared with Roland Martin why the mini series needed to be revamped.
The super-producer, whose film Straight Outta Compton was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Original Screenplay category said, “There is an entire generation that think that they know the story of Africans’ journey into America.”
Packer opined that for many younger Americans, watching Django Unchained and 12 Years A Slave is not enough to understand the history of our ancestors.
Packer said the reimagined series is “Roots for a new generation.” He added, “It’s really for the young brothers and sisters that did not see that first one, that think they know the story, who don’t want to be faced with another narrative about our journey, but need to see it because it’s compelling and it’s important.”
“You can’t move forward in the right way that you need to as a community without really truly acknowledging your history.”
Be sure to watch Roots starting on Memorial Day, May 30th at 9/8c on HISTORY (check your local listings).
Subscribe to the “NewsOne Now” Audio Podcast on iTunes.
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