MTV Entertainment on Wednesday announced a new docuseries produced in partnership with Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance’s Bassett Vance Productions that will explore the tragic history of slavery and its profound, continuing impact on the modern world.
The four-episode series, “One Thousand Years of Slavery,” will air on the Smithsonian Channel. Each episode will focus on “powerful stories of notable individuals courageously sharing their deeply personal Black experiences.”
The series will feature interviews and personal accounts with leaders and activists including Smithsonian Institution secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III, Senator Cory booker, and actor David Harewood, and will look at “how slavery frames the present and continues to act as a distinct force on the future.”
Watch the trailer above.
Described as “a dialogue of reflection, oppression, and progression, offering diverse perspectives proving that this challenging yet imperative global conversation will continue for decades to come,” the series will be directed by Nigeria-born BAFTA winner David Olusoga.
It’s produced by Uplands Television Ltd. for Smithsonian Channel and Channel 5. Bassett Vance Productions is executive producing the series. James Blue, Head of Smithsonian Channel and SVP of MTV News and Docs, and Pamela Aguilar, VP of Original Documentaries will oversee for MTV Entertainment Studios and Smithsonian Channel.
“The Smithsonian Channel and Smithsonian brand are known around the world as a trusted resource that makes history accessible for all. We couldn’t think of a better outlet to tell this important and increasingly relevant history. We are incredibly proud to be part of this journey,” Vance said in a statement.
Bassett said she and Vance “wanted to tell the globally comprehensive history of slavery. Finding the right partner and audience who share common beliefs and values was absolutely imperative as we navigate a topic that still hurts decades later. ‘One Thousand Years of Slavery’ stretches the canvas beyond the 400 years we think we’ve traditionally learned about and I am thrilled to bring this storytelling to life with Smithsonian Channel.”
Olusoga emphasized that the topic is still timely. “Slavery is not that long ago. It’s really recent. It’s painfully close to us, and it’s no surprise it’s still shaping our societies,” he said. “Our aim is to break away from just seeing the slave trade as a phenomena that exists after the conquest and discovery of the New World, but to look back. It’s to set what happened in the New World in context, that it came from somewhere.”
Bassett Vance Productions is repped by Darrell Miller, Fox Rothschild LLP.