HBO's 'Between the World and Me' Sets Star-Packed Cast

Angela Bassett, Oprah and Joe Morton - Split -HBO Publicity-H 2020
Courtesy of D'Andre Michael; Harpo Inc./Ruven Afanador; Benjo Arwas/HBO

HBO has lined up a star-studded cast for its adaptation of the stage show based on Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me

Angela Bassett, Alicia Garza, Joe Morton, Phylicia Rashad, Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter, Courtney B. Vance, Pauletta Washington, Susan Kelechi Watson and Oprah Winfrey will star in the special, which adapts a 2018 theatrical performance at Harlem's Apollo Theater. The HBO performance will incorporate elements of that production, including readings from Coates' 2015 best-seller, along with documentary elements, archival footage and animation.

Additional casting will be announced later. 

Between the World and Me is written as a letter from Coates to his teenage son and describes the author's experiences growing up in Baltimore and his growing fear of violence against the Black community. The narrative also explores Coates' notion that American society structurally supports white supremacy.

Apollo Theater executive producer Kamilah Forbes will direct the special, as she did for the 2018 theatrical production. Watson (This Is Us) also executive produces with Forbes, Coates and Roger Ross Williams, whose One Story Up is producing.

"As people across our country continue to speak out about violent, systemic racism and the urgent need for tangible change, Ta-Nehisi's words resonate as strongly today as they did five years ago," Forbes said when the special was announced in July. "I'm excited to collaborate again with both Ta-Nehisi and HBO on this important special event, ensuring that the powerful voices in this work, and cry for justice from the Black community, continues to reach a broader audience."

In addition to airing the special, HBO will make donations to Howard University (the alma mater of Coates and Forbes) and the Apollo Theater.

Bassett is repped by Gersh, Lighthouse Entertainment and Fox Rothschild. Garza is repped by ICM. Morton is repped by Vanguard Management Group and TalentWorks. Rashad is with BKEntertainment and Innovative Artists. Trotter is with Sweet 180, Maverick and attorney Brad Rubens. Vance is with WME and Fox Rothschild. Washington is repped by WME. Watson is with Authentic Talent and Literary Management, UTA and Jackoway Tyerman. Winfrey is repped by Ziffren Brittenham.