HBO is pulling together an all-star cast to debut in a special adaptation of author Ta-Nehisi Coates’ novel Between the World and Me, as reported by Variety. The recently announced cast includes Angela Bassett (Black Panther), Oprah Winfrey (Wrinkle In Time), “Black Lives Matter” founder Alicia Garza, Joe Morton (Scandal), Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show, Creed), Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, Courtney B. Vance (The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story), Pauletta Washington (Genius: Aretha), and Susan Kelechi Watson (This Is Us). HBO suggests that this is only the beginning as it plans to announce further cast members at a later date.
Between the World and Me is written as a letter sent to the Coates’ teenage son in which he expresses the feelings, symbolism, and realities associated with what it means to be Black in the United States. It explores the history of structural violence and endemic racism against Black bodies in American culture. Between the World and Me became a New York Times bestseller that went on to win the 2015 National Book Award, and was also a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
The HBO adaptation of Coates’ work will pull together influences from the 2018 Apollo Theater staged rendition of Between the World and Me, while also incorporating a variety of different elements such as recorded readings from the author’s book, archival footage, animation, and documentary footage from the actors’ home life.
The award winning director Kamilah Forbes (American Masters), who was responsible for the Apollo Theater adaptation of Coates’ novel, will helm the HBO special. She will also act as a executive producer alongside Coates, Watson, and Roger Ross Williams (God Loves Uganda, The Apollo). Between the World and Me is expected to drop as early as sometime in the fall of this year on both HBO and HBO Max.