By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — Much of the casting has been completed for the upcoming film “Genius: MLK/X,” the Disney+ (formerly Nat Geo) series executive produced by Reggie Rock Bythewood and Gina Prince-Bythewood.
Kelvin Harrison Jr. will play Martin Luther King. Jr, and Aaron Pierre will play opposite him as Malcolm X. Weruche Opia and Jayme Lawson will star alongside as Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz, respectfully. Principal photography has begun now in Atlanta.
“We are beyond excited to have put together the incredible foursome of Kelvin, Aaron, Jayme and Weruche to bring the depth, complexity, and humanity to these indelible icons,” said the Bythewoods in a statement. “They are all next level in their chops and their passion to tell this story.”
A think tank has also been announced to help with the creation of the limited series. The historians and experts serving as consultants will provide education before the start of the writer’s room to guide the series’ production. “We wanted to assemble a consortium of scholars and experts who can not only lend their extensive knowledge, expertise and research but also create a space for meaningful debate and discussion to ensure an honest portrayal of the complexities of these iconic geniuses,” said the Bythewoods. “The legacies of Martin and Malcolm are critical to our understanding of the social justice movements of today, so we had to get this right. We could not have asked for a more incredible group to guide us through their stories.”
Channing Godfrey Peoples, whose directorial debut was “Miss Juneteenth,” has also been named as a co-executive producer and will direct the pilot episode. Raphael Jackson Jr. and Damione Macedon are the showrunners.
“Genius MLK/X” was announced in April, with the plot set to focus on the push and pull between King and X’s ideologies.
The Bythewoods said in a statement in April that they want the series to focus on King and X’s humanity.
“Malcolm and Martin are staggering icons, and we have been eager to explore the genius of these two very real men in a way that has not yet been seen,” they said. “We are excited to team up with Imagine Entertainment and 20th Television to reflect their amazing lives and contributions to civil rights and the urgency of today.”