During our recent video chat (watch above), Aisha Hinds describes playing famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman in WGN America’s “Underground” as, “an overwhelming, enriching responsibility. It was something that truly excited me, but at the same time it was equally daunting for me.” The hit series recounts the beginnings of the Underground Railroad, a secret network of paths and safe houses for escaped slaves in 19th century America, of which Tubman was a trailblazing conductor. Hinds joined the ensemble cast, which includes Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge, Jessica De Gouw, Alano Miller, Amirah Vann, and Christopher Meloni, in the second season.
“She’s such an icon, and such a huge part of the historical fabric of this country,” adds Hinds, best known for her roles in “Under the Dome” and “Star Trek Into Darkness” (2013). “I simply just wanted to do her legacy justice.” She got her chance and then some in the episode “Minty,” which features entirely a solo performance by the actress as she recounts Tubman’s early life and her journey to freedom to a room of abolitionists. “In the research, we discovered that Harriet Tubman literally would go around and give her version of these 1800 TED Talks,” reveals Hinds, “and so here we are, doing the exact thing, telling her story.” Filming the episode, she admits, was, “a life-changing experience.”
She praises creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, who wrote the episode, and director Anthony Hemingway for taking a chance on risky material. “They’re telling this story in a revolutionary way,” she divulges. “The way that they’re telling this story is not a convention that they created for television, or to make interesting or edgy. They’re telling this story honoring the way that she told her story.”
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