HBO’s BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME, a gripping adaption of the New York Times #1 bestselling book by Ta-Nehisi Coates and the Apollo stage performance of the same name, debuts SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. Originally adapted and staged by the Apollo Theater in 2018, this urgent story of hope and resilience combines elements of that production, including powerful readings from Coates’ book, and is directed by award-winning director and Apollo Theater Executive Producer Kamilah Forbes.
BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME will be available on HBO and to stream on HBO Max.
Coates’ book, which is now recognized as a classic of the Black Lives Matter era, has been reimagined during a global pandemic against the backdrop of the killing of Breonna Taylor and global protests for Black lives. Anchored by an ensemble performance, including Mahershala Ali, Angela Bassett, Yara Shahidi, Oprah Winfrey and others, this special embodies Coates’ letter to his 15-year-old son on coming of age in Black America. From Jharrell Jerome delivering the pains of growing up in Baltimore’s inner city, to Susan Kelechi Watson evoking the HBCU experience, to the musical collaboration of Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Ledisi, BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME explores Coates’ vision of a race built beneath white supremacy, and a people built despite it. The special is as breathtaking, heartbreaking and layered as the Black experience in America.
Kamilah Forbes’ television directorial debut combines powerful performances, elements of the Apollo’s production, documentary footage from the actors’ home life, archival footage, and animation. It includes appearances by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Mahershala Ali, Angela Bassett, Angela Davis, Alicia Garza, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Jharrel Jerome, Mimi Jones, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Ledisi, Janet Mock, Jason Moran, Joe Morton, Wendell Pierce, Phylicia Rashad, Greg Alverez Reid, MJ Rodriguez, Kendrick Sampson, Yara Shahidi, Nate Smith, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, Courtney B. Vance, Olivia Washington, Pauletta Washington, Susan Kelechi Watson, Michelle Wilson and Oprah Winfrey.
Coates’ book Between the World and Me, published by One World, is a New York Times Bestseller, National Book Award winner, and Pulitzer Prize finalist. First published in 2015, it is written as a letter to Coates’ teenage son and recounts the author’s experiences growing up in Baltimore’s inner city and his growing fear of daily violence against the Black community. The narrative explores Coates’ bold notion that American society structurally supports white supremacy.
The stage adaptation based on Between the World and Me was originally performed in 2018 as a limited engagement at the Apollo Theater and the Kennedy Center, with encore performances at the Apollo Theater and again in Atlanta in 2019. Kamilah Forbes, a close friend of Coates, is featured in the book as “Aunt Kamilah” and was immediately inspired to adapt Coates’ work to the stage after reading it. The pair met at Howard University, a pivotal time in both of their lives that has been a continued source of creativity and inspiration. Watson, also a Howard alum, participated in the staged reading at the Apollo and Kennedy Center.
BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME is directed by Kamilah Forbes who also serves as executive producer; executive produced by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Susan Kelechi Watson and Roger Ross Williams. Williams’ production company ONE STORY UP produces.