The promised HBO adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ award-winning nonfiction work Between The World and Me is set to premiere in a matter of days, and the network has released a stunning trailer to further build anticipation.
The trailer features a veritable who’s-who of Black Hollywood. As previously reported by The Root, the cast for the film includes a list of veteran actors like Angela Bassett, Courtney B. Vance, Oprah Winfrey, Mahershala Ali, and Wendell Pierce, as well as relative newcomers like Kendrick Sampson, Yara Shahidi, and Mj Rodriquez. Music-wise, Ledisi, Black Thought, and T.I. are among the artists featured in the upcoming special.
There are also well-known activists shown reciting Coates’ words, written in the form of a treatise to his Black son about his experiences as a Black man in America. Angela Davis leads off the trailer, her recognizable voice declaring, “Black is beautiful, the Black body is beautiful. And we must never submit our original self.”
Other scenes from the special—which will feature documentary footage from the actors’ home life, archival footage, and animation according to HBO—include images of Howard University (whose “mecca” Coates’ speaks powerfully of in the book), dashcam and cell phone footage of police brutalizing Black people and clips from this summer’s protests against racism and police violence.
Coates himself also shows up in the trailer for the film, which he executive produced alongside Susan Kelechi Watson and director Kamilah Forbes, who was behind a 2018 stage adaptation of Between the World and Me at the Apollo Theater.
An early review of the film by IndieWire praises Forbes for “combining powerful performances with elements of the Apollo’s production, which primarily comprised of actors performing passages as a band played in the background,” and adds that it’s worth watching even if you’ve already read the book.
Between the World and Me will premiere Saturday, November 21, at 8pm on HBO Max.
Correction: 11/18/2020, 2:20 p.m. ET: In an earlier version of this story, Angela Bassett and Angela Davis were misidentified. The story has been updated.