John Legend to Play Abolitionist Frederick Douglass in ‘Underground’
R&B star John Legend is joining the cast of his hit slave drama Underground to portray famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The “All of Me” singer serves as an executive producer of the show, which centers on America’s Underground Railroad, a network of safe houses and secret routes created to help African-Americans escape bondage before slavery was banned at the conclusion of the United States Civil War in 1865.
Now Legend will step back in time himself to bring author, orator and political reformist Douglass to life onscreen in the second season of Underground. Douglass isn’t the only historical figure to feature on the show – Aisha Hinds will play Harriet Tubman, while Chris Chalk will portray another key abolitionist, William Still, reports The Wrap. Season two is currently being filmed in Georgia, ahead of a planned March 2017 premiere. Legend has been building up his resume as a film and TV producer since launching his Get Lifted Film Company in 2011. The star is currently developing Black Wall Street, a new series about one of America’s most famous affluent black neighborhoods, while he also worked on Southside With You, a romantic drama based on U.S. President Barack Obama’s first date with his now wife, First Lady Michelle. They were played onscreen by Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter, respectively. Meanwhile, Legend has also flexed his acting muscles on the big screen in Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s upcoming movie musical, La La Land, which he also produced. The Hollywood-set musical, about two aspiring artists who fall in love, has already generated early Oscars buzz after Stone was named Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival in Italy in early September, while the movie recently won the prestigious People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada.