Aunjanue Ellis is the star of the BET miniseries The Book of Negroes, which has garnered a positive social media response in its first airing during the week.
She plays Aminata Diallo, a woman who is enslaved and freed, but then spends the rest of her life fighting for her dignity. The six-part series repeats in its entirety this weekend on Centric Sunday, February 21, from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.
“She is a woman who was kidnapped from Africa and brought to America. She is extraordinary figure, a character that no one has seen on American television. This woman says, “I chose the man I love.” For a woman to say something like that in that time was unheard of. Even for a white woman,” Ellis said.
The Book Of Negroes is a love story as well as the story of a woman’s search for freedom. Ellis says that although there is a romantic part to the love story, it’s also a story of Aminata’s love for her children and the various people she meets throughout her extraordinary life.
“Daddy Moses, played so wonderfully by Lou Gossett, Jr. who was a complete stranger to her but he took her in. It’s a testimony of the kind of love between our husbands and our wives and our lovers and strangers that we had to make our families in order to survive,” Ellis says.
The miniseries is based on an actual book written by Lawrence Hill that was originally published in Canada as Someone Knows My Name.
“Thankfully we had a group of people in the production who wanted to make sure that what we were telling was authentic. Lawrence Hill is a scholar as well as a novelist and he had done a great deal of research. We shot where these people lived. We went to Africa, we went to Nova Scotia. They made sure that our steps mirrored the steps and that informed our work.”