[WATCH] Erica Tazel (‘Roots’): ‘The women endured extraordinary circumstances’

“The women endure extraordinary circumstances in terms of separation from their children, separation from their husbands,” says Erica Tazel as we chat via webcam about the History Channel’s “Roots” (watch above). Tazel plays Matilda, who starts a family with Chicken George (Rege-Jean Page) only for him to be sold overseas for 20 years. In telling this story, Tazel hoped to “give voice to the long-suffering wife and mother, who tends to get left out.”

Malachi Kirby | Anika Noni Rose | Rege-Jean Page | Emayatzy Corinealdi

Women like Matilda aren’t just historically significant. They also have modern cultural relevance. Explains Tazel, “I call Matilda the ancestral throwback to the single mother. For many of us in our community whose husbands, boyfriends and fiances find themselves incarcerated, very much like George being sent to another country, someone had to stay home and keep that family together in the hopes that he would return.”

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Tazel wanted to honor those women, past and present, and “to remind audiences and even remind our community the role that women play and the importance of matriarchy in our community. I was very pleased to be a part of that.”

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