Barry Jenkins and the Cast of ‘The Underground Railroad’ Discuss the Powerful Limited Series

Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad is a necessary reading for the ways it transcends a violent history and navigates the magic of self determination and Black personhood. The novel, published in 2016 and winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book awards for fiction, follows the life of Cora and Caesar, two slaves in 19th century Georgia who take on the treacherous journey that is their freedom. The novel is bold, loving, and powerful, and with its serving as the basis for director Barry Jenkins’ (Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk) Amazon series by the same name, it has become necessary viewing.

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A ‘Gaze’ into the Soul of ‘The Underground Railroad’

by Barry Jenkins | Originally published on Vimeo

In my years of doing interviews and roundtables and Q&A’s for the various films we’ve made, there is one question that recurs. No matter the length of the piece or the tone of the room, eventually, inevitably, I am asked about the white gaze. It wasn’t until a very particular interview regarding The Underground Railroad that the blindspot inherent in that questioning became clear to me: never, in all my years of working or questioning, had I been set upon about the Black gaze; or the gaze distilled.

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William Jackson Harper is Taking ‘The Good Place’ With Him

At some point within the Jeremy Bearimy, I eventually lost count of how many people I told about The Good Place after the first season aired. I caught it over the hiatus before season two and couldn’t stop telling people about it. That season one twist and (subsequent) cliffhanger were my bread and butter. Just three years later, one of the best shows on TV is coming to a speedy end (reveling in brevity like Deirdre and Margaret but with fewer years and far more episodes). 

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