In addition to being an Academy Award winner, Golden Globe®-winner and nine-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, John Legend is preparing to add the title of Executive Producer to his resume, thanks to his new series Underground.
Underground is WGN’s latest original scripted series and will follow the lives of plantation slaves as they band together in the fight of their lives for their families, their future…and most importantly, their freedom.
The announcement of Legend and his Get Lifted production company’s involvement was made today by Matt Cherniss, President and General Manager, WGN America and Tribune Studios, during the Television Critics Association press tour. “We are thrilled that John Legend will lend his impressive talents to ‘Underground,’ a story that chronicles the compelling journey of brave individuals whose fight for freedom still inspires us today,” said Cherniss. “We look forward to John, Mike and Ty’s creative imprint on this series that we believe will be both provocative and captivating.”
“We are excited to join forces with WGN America and Sony and the talented team of writers and producers on this powerful project that we believe will inspire us all,” stated Legend. “This series has a unique opportunity to speak to the passion and courage of those who risked it all as they raced to freedom. We are honored to bring our creative vision to this thrilling project.”
Underground’s production is currently underway in Baton Rouge, LA and the show has an impressive cast lined up. Read more about them and the characters they play, including which Empire star you can expect an appearance from, per WGN:
- Aldis Hodge (“Straight Outta Compton,” “Leverage,” “Turn”) as Noah, a restless slave who organizes a small team of fellow slaves on the Macon plantation to plan an escape
- Jurnee Smollett-Bell (“Friday Night Lights,” “True Blood,” “The Great Debaters”) as Rosalee, a shy house slave with a powerful inner strength and courage
- Christopher Meloni (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”) as August Pullman, a secretive man who walks a tightrope between morality and survival
- Alano Miller (“Jane The Virgin”) as Cato, a cunning, charismatic man despised and feared by his fellow slaves
- Jessica de Gouw (“Arrow,” “Dracula”) as Elizabeth Hawkes, a socialite who shares the abolitionist ideals of her husband, John (Marc Blucas, “Blue Bloods”), a lawyer whose principles clash with the legislation he’s sworn to uphold.
- Adina Porter (“True Blood,” “The 100,” “The Newsroom”) as Pearly Mae, a strong-willed wife and mother; Mykelti Williamson (“Justified,” “24”) as her husband Moses, a fiery preacher
- Amirah Vann (“Girls,” “And So It Goes”) as Ernestine, head house slave and fiercely devoted mother
- Johnny Ray Gill (“Rectify”) as Sam, Rosalee’s half-brother and a talented carpenter; Chris Chalk (“The Newsroom,” “Homeland,” “Gotham”) as William Still, an abolitionist ally
- Reed Diamond (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) as Tom Macon, a plantation owner and political candidate
- Jussie Smollett (“Empire”), who joins his sister Smollett-Bell in the cast as Josey, a wild-eyed runaway who doesn’t trust anyone
Underground is set for a 2016 premiere on WGN America.