It’s no surprise that the WGN America’s “Underground” is executive produced by Oscar and Grammy winner John Legend—the 10-episode series, which stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell, follows the lives of a group of slaves who are attempting to escape from a Georgia plantation through the Underground Railroad. It’s a show that’s compelling; a legend(ary) story of bravery, ingenuity and power. Legend, with executive producers and Get Lifted Film Co. partners Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius, oversees all music aspects of the gripping small-screen journey, which follows a group of slaves striving for their freedom from the Macon plantation in 1857 Antebellum, Georgia. As they plan to escape, the immense sacrifices and uncertainty of where to go and who to trust will test those who have the courage to leave and decide who has the endurance to survive.
Need a revisit? The “Underground: Season One” DVD release, by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, is enhanced with bonus material that includes behind-the-scenes featurettes “The Music of Underground” with Executive Producers John Legend and Mike Jackson discussing the soundtrack and how contemporary music plays a role in the show; “The Journey of Underground,” showcasing how the story made it from the set to the screen; and “The Characters of Macon,” giving audiences a deeper look at the powerful personas who have brought the series to life, along with commentaries for select episodes, a cast gag reel and more. Save the date: June 14.
The ensemble cast features breakout stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Aldis Hodge, alongside Jessica De Gouw, Alano Miller and Christopher Meloni, and guest stars Marc Blucas, Reed Diamond, Adina Porter, Amirah Vann, Mykelti Williamson and Andrea Frankle.
Legend discusses why “Underground” is so important: “I think we have to confront our history. We have to understand it and how it relates to what’s happening in the world now,” he says. “So when we talk about the issues of race and how we interact with each other in this country, we can’t talk about American history, we can’t talk about how this country was built, and we can’t talk about the politics of this country without understanding that so much of our history involves slavery.”
Pause. And then he adds: “When you think of the depths of oppression and the depths of the evil that these folks faced—and they decided to do something that was against the odds anyway—we can apply that to anything that we’re going through today,” he said. “It’s not nearly as oppressive now, but we’re still fighting for justice in America and we can take courage from their courage. We can be inspired by their heroism.”