Let me begin by saying that I have owned a copy of The Book of Negroes for over a year, and shamefully have not read 1 page as I have been intimidated by its size.
Secondly, as I sat in my seat ready to watch an episode at Tuesday night’s premiere of the mini-series adaptation, I was honestly skeptical on how it would be portrayed. I expected a “Canadian” production. What do I mean by “Canadian”?…Soft, when it should be edgy. Making it just right when it should be raw. Creating a non-threatening image of a story in order to not offend others..Boy was I pleasantly surprised.
Upon my first view of its 1st image, I was immediately blown away by its beauty, its production value, its accurate portrayal of that time. I was emotionally involved, with feelings of sadness, anger, disbelief, pride, as I was during Roots and 12 years of Slaves
The Book of Negroes transports us into the life of our main character Aminata Diallo, played by the beautiful Aunjanue Ellis, from slave to “free slave”. Episode 4 depicts our heroine as a woman who will not stop for anything to make things happen for herself and her people. She is a true heroine, and as the beautifully dressed and regal Aunjanue Ellis states: “Aminata is a Modern Woman”, and that she was and more
After a standing ovation of our sneak peak, we were treated to a panel, moderated by the author himself, Lawrence Hill, who has won several awards for this book…the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and CBC Canada Reads, for the Book of Negroes
He was eloquent and oh so modest about his success and was lovely in complimenting everyone from director Clement Virgo, who proclaimed that at the beginning he had no interest in reading a book called A Book of Negroes, but local radio host and singer Molly Johnson persist that he reads it, and takes Virgo’s wallet, pays for the book at the bookstore, and well… the rest is history. Thank you Molly!
Actor Cuba Gooding Jr, who plays Sam Frances in the film, is as you see him…boisterous, funny, charming and very eloquent in his words. At one point, he gracefully professes the talents of his co-star Aunjanue Ellis, stating how beautiful and amazing she is, and speaks of how on their first film together, “Men of Honour” playing husband and wife, that the chemistry between them was very strong. Here is what he had to say about his fellow actress
After Cuba’s humourous and from the heart speech, Hill’s ever so demure exchange was sidetrack in commenting how we should not give actor Cuba Gooding Jr the mic back because Hill would never have a chance to speak again…creating huge laughter in the room.
Louis Gossett Jr, mentor and elder of the cast, who has starred in Roots as Fiddler and I just learned, is the narrator in 12 Years of Slaves, plays Daddy Moses, an African American slave who helps lead a band of runaway slaves to freedom.
He proclaims The Book of Negroes is better than both.Take a listen here
Actress Shai Pierre Dixon, the youngest in the cast, plays a young Aminata Diallo. She spoke eloquently about being included with such a talented cast and how her surrogate mom Aunjanue Ellis, helped to direct her, in which Aunjanue declared that she did not direct her in any way..she’s a true talent in herself
The very handsome Canadian actor Lyriq Bent who plays Chekura Tiano, Aminata’s companion and husband spoke about how the Book of Negroes film adaptation is uncomparable to other films of this genre, as it speaks about black love, between a man and a woman. Their love is strong and they strive to be together through all challenges and struggles
Director Clement Virgo created a masterpiece like no other and I am so excited to watch its premiere on January 7th, 2015. You should be too.
The novel, The Book of Negroes has sold nearly a million copies worldwide and I want to thank you Lawrence Hill for writing such an epic story that portrays a womens perspective of slavery. Bravo to your brilliance! I am no longer intimidated by its size, I am now excited to delve into history