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While slaves certainly could not have imagined their struggles would be documented, as both complete freedom and modern mass media were inconceivable at the time, the actors that brought the period to life on the TV show Underground weren’t entirely sure that they had a hit in the making.

Though most of them hoped that the show would do well, they knew the subject matter might prove alienating to some viewers. But Underground has been a huge hit for little-known cable network WGN America, which has seen it bring in the highest ratings for the network in 18 years.

Mostly known as a Chicago-based network, WGN’s last highest rated show was live baseball, during the Cubs vs. Cardinals game in 1988 where Mark McGwire beat Roger Maris’ single season home run record.

“We couldn’t be happier with the outstanding performance of Underground, but the overwhelmingly positive response of the audience to this story about the unsung American heroes of the Underground Railroad is even more gratifying,” said Matt Cherniss, president and general manager, WGN America and Tribune Studios.  “The talented creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, along with the producers and an amazing cast and crew, have created something truly special.”

The show’s 10 episodes are based around a group of slaves heading for freedom from a plantation in Georgia. Anchored by Aldis Hodge and Jurnee Smollett Bell (with an upcoming cameo by brother Jussie Smollett) the show delves into the complicated relationships between slave masters, slaves, and slave catchers in the 1800’s.

We asked a few of the actors and actresses on Underground what drew them to the show:

Check out the video below:

Aldis Hodge and Jurnee Smollett Bell

Alano Miller and Renwick Scott

Anthony Hemingway

Underground airs on WGN America on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. You can watch full episodes HERE.

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