“I was really inspired by the amount of people who watched this and said, ‘This is an amazing piece of history. I appreciate it being told,'” reveals Anika Noni Rose as we chat via webcam (watch above) about the History Channel miniseries “Roots,” which aired over four nights from May 30 to June 1. As she explains, ‘this is not a story that is simply for black Americans. This is a story for Americans.”
Rose plays Kizzy, a role played by Leslie Uggams in the original 1977 miniseries. Kizzy is the daughter of Kunta Kinte (Malachi Kirby) and Belle (Emayatzy Corinealdi) and the mother of Chicken George (Rege-Jean Page). “She is someone who knew not only who she was but where she came from and the strength of what her name meant and the name of those before,” Rose explains of what appealed to her about the character.
“She’s written in this version as someone who is allowed to mature and become a woman. She’s not stuck in a place of innocent-little-girldom or in a place of softness,” Rose adds. “I think it’s important that when we talk about women, and slave women particularly, that we show them in a way where you see who these women are … and what created their drive to live.”
In addition to her work on TV, Rose is also an accomplished theater actress. She won a Tony for “Caroline, or Change” in 2004, and took part in a 2013 workshop of “Hamilton,” which is expected to sweep the Tonys on June 12. She created the role of Angelica Schuyler, which is now played by Renee Elise Goldsberry who is tipped to win the Tony. “I knew exactly what [a phenomenon] it was going to be because it was that already even with only a first act completed. It is changing theater. It is changing the way we see history, tell history and show history.”
Rose also has advice for anxious nominees waiting to hear their names called: “Pack a snack because that ceremony is not short, and you didn’t eat before you put on your gown or your tux. And enjoy yourself. What you’ve done is phenomenal, or you wouldn’t be there.”
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