he star of the History Channel’s “Roots” talks about his faith, his strange route toward his iconic role, and what he learned from playing Kunta Kinte.
Though he’d had roles in EastEnders and Doctor Who, landing the role of Kunta Kinte in the History Channel’s new production of Roots was the last thing Malachi Kirby expected. The twenty-six year old English actor was reportedly chosen by executive producer LeVar Burton—who played Kunta Kinte in 1970s production, a runaway hit in the United States—for the role.
But as Kirby tells the story, his casting is all God’s doing. And in taking on the physically and emotionally demanding role of a young man captured in Gambia and brought in chains to a plantation in Virginia a hundred years before the Emancipation Proclamation, Kirby learned more than he’d bargained for. The newly reimagined show covers the same ground as the 1977 series, but incorporates several decades of research done since the previous version aired. Along with Kirby, Forest Whitaker, Laurence Fishburne, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anna Paquin, and others star.
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