A&E and The History Channel have joined forces to launch a remake of Alex Haley’s mini-series, “Roots,” The Huffington Post reports. The reboot will follow the many generations of Haley’s family, starting with the chilling story of Kunta Kinte, a young man from Gambia who was sold into slavery around 1767. Night one of the four-part mini-series will air on May 30.
The “Roots” remake features newcomer Malachi Kirby in the lead role of Kunta Kinte. On April 21, Kirby spoke openly about taking on the challenging role at a preview screening of the new series at the Tribeca Film Festival, according to The Huffington Post. He said his preparation began with NOT trying to imitate the work of LeVar Burton, the actor who played Kunta Kinte in the original 1977 mini-series.
“I did research on the culture, tradition… But in terms of the actual journey that Kunta Kinte goes on, to be honest, I had no idea how to prepare for that. I still don’t,” Kirby said after the screening.
The actor said he also turned to prayer and his faith to get him ready for the role.
“There were so many enslaved people that didn’t even make it off the boat, let alone live and have children,” Kirby explained. “I was thinking, what was it that gave them the strength to survive? And what I found was that it was his spirit. His spirit and his knowledge of self.”
The 25-year-old hopes that viewers, specifically young Black men like himself, will take away that very important lesson after watching the mini-series. Per The Huffington Post, Kirby asserts that the key message of “Roots” is that “our history does not begin at slavery.”
“That is the main message that I would like the young Black man to get from this,” he said. “To be proud of his ancestry. To not feel that it’s a negative thing to be African. And to also understand that those people who were enslaved were not weak. Those were strong people. And they survived.”
Kirby is a British actor known for his roles in movies like “Kilo Two Bravo” and “Gone Too Far,” along with his part on the long-running U.K. soap opera “EastEnders,” the NY Post reports. He’ll act alongside “Black-ish” star Laurence Fishburne, who will play Alex Haley in the “Roots” reboot. Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker, Anika Noni Rose and T.I. “Tip” Harris will also star in the new mini-series.
Writers for the show will include Lawrence Konner of “Boardwalk Empir;” Alison McDonald of “Opera House;” Charles Murray of “Sons of Anarchy;” and Mark Rosenthal of “Mona Lisa Smile,” according to the NY Post.