The 1977 miniseries Roots is considered a seminal piece of pop culture. It was such a groundbreaking and revered feat in storytelling, that many were curious why History would feel the need to remake it. The reboot’s star, Malachi Kirby, echoed these sentiments: “My first response was, ‘Why are they doing it again? That one was amazing,'” the actor told EW. But after talking with producer Mark Wolper, he came around to the idea.
“It really wasn’t until I sat my 16-year-old boy down and forced him to watch the original Roots, and realized that he did not want to watch it, he could not watch it,” Wolper, who also produced the 1977 Roots, explained. “After I held him down and forced him to watch it. When it was over, he looks at me and says, ‘Dad, I understand why it’s important, but it’s like your music — it doesn’t speak to me.’ And I realized in that moment that we do need to tell the story of Roots again.”
“There is a generation of people who need to see this, that won’t or aren’t able to receive the first one as well for many reasons,” Kirby echoed. “We just needed a fresh take on it.”
For actress Erica Tazel, a huge part of the series is showing a new generation the happy times in Africa before slavery, and the empowerment that goes along with that. Actor Regé-Jean Page says that it’s a story that is always relevant, albeit in different ways at different times.
History will air Roots over four consecutive nights at 9 p.m. ET beginning May 30. It will also be simulcast on Lifetime and A&E.