WGN Produces Documentary on the Underground Railroad

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In advance of the second season premiere of WGN America’s hit original series “Underground,” on WEDNESDAY, March 8 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, fans are getting a chance to go behind the scenes with the cast and crew in an all new documentary, Breaking Free.   Premiering Sunday, March 5 on WGN America, this half-hour special highlights how a daring few broke free from slavery, one of the greatest atrocities in human history, and established a route to freedom that became known as the Underground Railroad. The documentary special will tell the stories of the fugitive heroes from Harriet Tubman to William Still and uncover the inspiration behind creating “Underground.” Viewers will get a chance to see the making of “Underground” season two and hear from cast, crew and civil rights leaders on why this story deserves to be told today.  Prior to its nationwide premiere on WGN America, the special is currently rolling out across Tribune Broadcasting’s 42 local stations.
Series stars Jurnee Smollett-BellAldis HodgeAlano MillerJessica de GouwAmirah Vann and Aisha Hinds are featured in the special, along with creators, writers and executive producers Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, and director and executive producer Anthony Hemingway. Additional interviewees featured include; Dr. Noelle Trent (Director of Interpretation Collections & Education National Civil Rights Museum), Dr. Clarence Newsome (President, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center), Mekeisha Madden Toby (Writer, Essence Magazine), Dominic Patten (Writer, Deadline.com), and Fergus Bordewich (Author, Bound for Canaan).
The celebrated “Underground” cast returning this season includes: Jurnee Smollett-Bell (“Friday Night Lights,” The Great Debaters) as Rosalee, the formerly timid and sheltered enslaved woman who was called upon to display untapped courage in order to escape North; Aldis Hodge (Straight Outta Compton, Hidden Figures) as Noah, the strong and charismatic leader of the infamous Macon 7.  He sacrificed everything to get Rosalee and young Boo to freedom; Jessica de Gouw (“Arrow,” “Dracula”) as Elizabeth Hawkes, an Ohio socialite turned dedicated abolitionist who is driven by a sense of morality; Alano Miller (Loving, “Atlanta”) as Cato, a cunning and calculating member of the Macon 7 who is always looking out for number one; Christopher Meloni (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”) as August Pullman, a lone wolf slave catcher who walks a tightrope between morality and survival; Amirah Vann (“Girls,” And So It Goes) as Ernestine, Rosalee’s mother and formerly the head house servant on the Macon Plantation; and Marc Blucas (“Blue Bloods”) as John Hawkes, an abolitionist lawyer who will break the laws he’s sworn to uphold in order to serve what he knows to be right.
Joining the cast in season two as recurring guest stars are: Aisha Hinds (“Under the Dome,” “True Blood,” Star Trek Into Darkness) in the pioneering role of Harriet Tubman, the Underground Railroad’s most famous conductor revered for her grit, perseverance and unrelenting will to help scores of enslaved people reach their freedom; Bokeem Woodbine (“Fargo,” the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming, Total Recall) as Daniel, a skilled stonemason, who has decided to take freedom into his own hands.  Jasika Nicole (“Fringe,” “Scandal”) as Georgia, an abolitionist with a covert station along the Underground whose quiet confidence hides secrets of her own; DeWanda Wise (“Shots Fired”) as Clara, a preacher’s daughter from an enslaved community; Michael Trotter (“Rosewood”) as Biographer, an astute observer of people often fearful of taking chances, who lives through the lives of others; Jesse Luken (“Justified,” 42) as Smoke, the fearless second in command of Patty Cannon’s infamous gang of slave catchers; Sadie Stratton (“Code Black,” “Boy Meets World”) as Patty Cannon, and Academy Award® and Golden Globe® winner and ten-time Grammy Award® winning singer-songwriter John Legend as renowned abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
Underground,” delivered 3 million Total Viewers weekly, and made history as WGN America’s most-watched original program ever in its freshman season.  The series was recently honored with a number of recognitions including four NAACP Image Awards nominations for Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Amirah Vann) and Outstanding Directing in a Dramatic Series (Anthony Hemingway).   Additionally, the African American Film Critics Association named “Underground” as Best TV Show (Cable/New Media) and the second highest show overall for 2016, and honored Director Anthony Hemmingway with their 2017 Horizon Award.  The series also won several awards at the inaugural Cynopsis TV Awards including Best New Drama Series, Best Series Writing (Drama) and Best Showrunner.
From Sony Pictures Television, “Underground” is created and written by Misha Green (“Sons of Anarchy,” “Heroes”) and Joe Pokaski (“Heroes,” “Daredevil”), who serve as Executive Producers alongside Emmy Award® winning executive producer/director Anthony Hemingway (“The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” “The Wire”); Academy Award-winning writer Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, I Am Legend) of Weed Road Pictures; Tory Tunnell (King Arthur, Holy Rollers) and Joby Harold (King Arthur, Edge of Tomorrow) of Safehouse Pictures; John Legend, Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius of Get Lifted Film Co (Southside with You, La La Land).; and Mark Taylor (“MadTV”). Season two of the gripping original drama was shot in Savannah, Georgia.

About the author / 

Toure Muhammad

Author Toure Muhammad is the head bean, publisher and chief strategist of Bean Soup Times. The Morehouse graduate has written front page cover stories for The Final Call and N’digo. He has been featured in the Chicago Reader, Upscale magazine, rolling out newspaper, and N’Digo magapaper. He’s been featured on Tavis Smiley’s radio show on NPR, on Chicago’s WBEZ (Chicago public radio), and many other radio shows.

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