Variety is reporting that How To Get Away With Murder’s Aja Naomi King has been cast opposite Armie Hammer in The Birth Of A Nation, which will chronicle Nat Turner’s brief-but-pivotal slave rebellion of 1831. Nate Parker, best known for his roles in Red Tails and last year’s Non-Stop, will star and direct from his own script.
King is joining other recent cast additions, including NCIS: Los Angeles’ Aunjanue Ellis, Selma’s Colman Domingo, Dwight Henry from 12 Years A Slave and Beasts Of The Southern Wild, Gabrielle Union, and veteran actor Roger Guenveur Smith.
Inspired by previous slave revolts, spiritual visions, and a desire to draw attention to the plight of slaves, Nat Turner led a core group of more than 70 fellow slaves in an Virginia uprising against white slaveholders. On August 21, 1831, Turner’s group took up weapons and began freeing slaves, killing any whites they encountered. The uprising was quickly put down by a militia, and the reprisal was swift and harsh. Across the state, an estimated 200 blacks were killed, regardless of their involvement or proximity to the rebellion. Turner himself survived for two months before he was captured, executed, and his body mutilated.
In a 2014 interview with Interview magazine, Parker acknowledged the intentional, ironic naming of his project. The new Birth Of A Nation begins filming this spring in Savannah, GA, a century after the release of the original Birth Of A Nation, a film famously known for its groundbreaking cinematic techniques, heavy-handed racist overtones, and heroic portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan.