Louis Gossett, Jr. on playing blind, heroic ex-slave in ‘The Book of Negroes’ [Exclusive Video]

“Daddy Moses brings people to the promised land. He’s an important character in the story of this woman’s life,” says Louis Gossett, Jr. during our video chat (watch below) about his role in the recent BET limited series “The Book of Negroes.” He plays a legally blind ex-slave from Virginia who helped start the first black community in Nova Scotia after the American Revolutionary War. The elderly church leader, known as “Preacher Man” to his friends and neighbors, comes to the aid of the lead character, a former slave Aminata (Aunjanue Ellis), when she arrives in Canada.

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The program is the first of its kind for BET and was a recent Critics Choice TV Awards nominee for Best Limited Series and Best Movie/Mini Actress (Ellis). It also stars Cuba Gooding Jr., Lyriq Bent, Ben Chaplin, and Jane Alexander. This will mark the first time BET will compete on the Emmys ballot in the long-form categories this summer.

The actor reveals the response to the show has been overwhelming. “I have heard nothing but positives (with) most of the discussions now in Washington, D.C., and the United Nations, and some of the schools. They want to compare it to ‘Roots’ in some sense but maybe the ‘Roots’ of today. The best thing about the six-hour miniseries… is that it’s the triumphant story of a woman.”

He won an Emmy for his role in “Roots” back in 1977. Since then he he has reaped six more primetime nominations for such projects as a Ben Vereen variety special, “Backstairs at the White House,” “Palmerstown, U.S.A.,” “Sadat,” “A Gathering of Old Men,” and “Touched by an Angel.” Five years after his Emmy victory, he won an Academy Award and Golden Globe as Best Supporting Actor for “An Officer and a Gentleman” (1982).

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