A+E Networks announces new casting for its four-night, eight-hour scripted event miniseries “Roots,” from A+E Studios, including Forest Whitaker as “Fiddler,” a slave who tries to mentor Kunta Kinte and risks his life to help him escape; Anika Noni Rose as “Kizzy,” the cherished, smart daughter of Kunta Kinte who maintains her family pride and warrior spirit; Chad L. Coleman as “Mingo,” a stern no-nonsense slave who keeps the Lea plantation afloat; Erica Tazel as “Matilda,” a preacher’s daughter and love interest to “Chicken George”; Derek Luke as “Silla Ba Dibba,” the military trainer of Juffure, charged with transforming teen boys into powerful Mandinka Warriors; Anna Paquin as “Nancy Holt,” the wife of a Confederate officer who has her own agenda when it comes to the handling of slaves; and Jonathan Rhys Meyers as “Tom Lea,” an uneducated slave owner desperate to claw his way into the elite company of Southern gentility.
After a global search to find the actors to play the iconic roles of “Kunta Kinte” and “Chicken George” that spanned 15 locations (Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Congo, South Africa, Kenya, Los Angeles, London, Toronto, Vancouver, Dallas, Austin, Atlanta, New York, Paris and Ireland), newcomers Malachi Kirby and Regé-Jean Page have been cast as Kunta Kinte and Chicken George respectively. Malachi was handpicked by executive producers Will Packer and LeVar Burton, who played the original Kunta Kinte.
They join previously announced Laurence Fishburne as Alex Haley, the author of the novel “Roots: The Saga of an American Family.”
Production is underway in New Orleans and set to begin later this month in South Africa.
Mario Van Peebles and Bruce Beresford are set to direct nights two and four respectively. They join previously announced Phillip Noyce and Thomas Carter, who are directing nights one and three respectively.
Questlove is also on-board as the Executive Music Producer for the production.
“Roots” is an A+E Studios production in association with Marc Toberoff and The Wolper Organization, the company that produced the original “Roots.” Will Packer, Marc Toberoff, Mark Wolper, Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal serve as executive producers. LeVar Burton and Korin D. Huggins are co-executive producers. Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Alison McDonald, and Charles Murray are writing. Dirk Hoogstra, Arturo Interian and Michael Stiller serve as Executives in Charge of Production for HISTORY. “Roots” is distributed internationally by A+E Networks under the A+E Studios International banner.