Oscar winning director Dustin Lance Black has written and created When We Rise, a seven part miniseries that tells the story of real life Americans who helped move our country forward and fought for the rights of the LGBT community. The show, which had to be slightly rescheduled due to the new president’s address to Congress, will air on ABC starting on Monday, February 27- Friday, March 3. It will not air on Tuesday, February 28 due to the address to congress. It will show from 9-11 p.m. each night.
According to ABC’s website: “This mini-series event chronicles the real-life personal and political struggles, set-backs and triumphs of a diverse family of LGBT men and women who helped pioneer one of the last legs of the U.S. Civil Rights movement, from its turbulent infancy in the 20th century to the once unfathomable successes of today.”
Black was able to bring some of the biggest names in Hollywood into the project which is sure to bolster ratings and make this series a major topic of water cooler conversation when it airs. Recently, while addressing a room full of reporters and TV critics, Black addressed how divided the country at this moment in time when he told them “I don’t see this show as trying to speak to only half of the country — I didn’t write the show for half the country.”
Starring in the mini-series are Guy Pearce (“Memento,” “L.A. Confidential”) as LGBT activist Cleve Jones, Mary-Louise Parker (“Weeds,” “Angels in America”) as women’s rights leader Roma Guy, Rachel Griffiths (“Brothers and Sisters,” “Six Feet Under”) as her wife, social justice activist Diane, Michael K. Williams (“Boardwalk Empire,” “The Wire”) as African-American community organizer Ken Jones and Ivory Aquino as transgender-activist Cecilia Chung. Also joining the cast are Austin McKenzie (“Spring Awakening”) as Younger Cleve Jones, Emily Skeggs (“Fun Home”) as Younger Roma Guy, newcomer Jonathan Majors as Younger Ken Jones, and Fiona Dourif (“The Master”) as Younger Diane.
Here is a bit more about the real life people who are portrayed in the series. (Provided by ABC.com)
Cleve Jones, a young Quaker from Arizona, joined the gay liberation movement in 1972, was mentored by pioneer gay-rights leader Harvey Milk, founded the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, and led the National March for Equality in 2009.
Ken Jones, an African-American Vietnam veteran, joined the gay-liberation movement in San Francisco, only to discover and confront racism within the gay men’s community. For years he organized services for homeless youth, worked to diversify the gay movement, and led efforts to confront the devastation of the AIDS epidemic.
From rural Maine, Roma Guy is a lesbian and a long-time social justice leader who co-founded the San Francisco Women’s Building. Then, as a Public Health Commissioner, she worked with others to bring healthcare access to all San Franciscans. She is currently a criminal-justice activist.
Diane, a lesbian mother and grandmother of three, joined the Women’s Movement in the 1970s in San Francisco, co-founded the Women’s Building and has worked as an HIV/AIDS nurse and social justice activist at San Francisco General Hospital for 33 years.
Special guest stars include Henry Czerny, Whoopi Goldberg, Arliss Howard, Sam Jaeger, T.R. Knight, Mary McCormak, Kevin McHale, Rosie O’Donnell, Denis O’Hare, Pauley Perrette, David Hyde Pierce, Richard Schiff, Phylicia Rashad, Rob Reiner and William Sadler.
“When We Rise” is executive produced by the Dustin Lance Black (“Milk,” “Big Love,” “J. Edgar”), Gus Van Sant (“Milk,” “Elephant,” “Good Will Hunting”) Laurence Mark (“Julie & Julia,””Dreamgirls,””I, Robot,” “Jerry Maguire”), and Bruce Cohen (“American Beauty,” “Milk,” “Silver Linings Playbook”). Van Sant directs the two-hour premiere of the eight-hour mini-series event. “When We Rise” is produced by ABC Studios.