Ta-Nehisi Coates to Host Live Conversation With ‘The Underground Railroad’s’ Barry Jenkins and Thuso Mbedu (EXCLUSIVE)

Best-selling author Ta-Nehisi Coates will moderate a live conversation about the Amazon Prime Video series “The Underground Railroad,” Variety can announce exclusively. Coates will discuss the series with creator and Academy Award-winning filmmaker Barry Jenkins, as well as star Thuso Mbedu.

Presented in partnership with Film at Lincoln Center and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the private virtual screening will take place May 10, just ahead of the series’ debut May 14 on Amazon Prime Video. Fans will be able to access a recorded version of the conversation on May 14 on the Film at the Lincoln Center’s YouTube channel.

Based on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Underground Railroad” follows a woman named Cora (Mbedu) in her desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. After Cora escapes her master’s Georgia plantation for the rumored Underground Railroad, she comes to discover it is not a mere metaphor, but a full-fledge railroad with engineers and conductors operating a secret network of tracks and tunnels below the Southern soil. All the while, Ridgeway (Joel Edgerton), a slave catcher, pursues Cora to bring her back to the plantation, partially fueled by the knowledge that the only runaway he has never caught is Cora’s very own mother, Mabel (Sheila Atim). During her travels, Cora contemplates the legacy of the mother that left her behind and her own struggles to realize a life she never thought was possible.

Coates’ debut novel, “The Water Dancer,” also tackles the topic of the Underground Railroad. The book focuses on Hiram Walker, who was born into slavery but propels into the underground war between slave owners and the enslaved after a brush with death, in which Walker was saved by his special conduction abilities. In Nov. 2020, it was announced that Coates’ novel would be adapted into a movie, produced by MGM, Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films and Brad Pitt’s Plan B (which also produced “The Underground Railroad” alongside Jenkins).

All 10 episodes of “The Underground Railroad” debut May 14 on Amazon Prime Video.

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