Press release - Series

February 1, 2022

‘Soul of a Nation Presents: Screen Queens Rising’ Reveals Lead Actresses Cast in Warner Bros.’ Film Adaptation of Musical ‘The Color Purple’

‘ABC News Live Prime’ Anchor Linsey Davis First To Interview the Actresses Playing Characters Celie and Sofia for Primetime Special Airing Thursday, Feb 3. (8:00-9:00 p.m. EST), on ABC

The Special Features an Exclusive Clip of ‘The Color Purple’ Producer Oprah Winfrey Delivering the Casting News to One of the Actresses

ABC News*

ABC News’ groundbreaking “Soul of a Nation” returns with the special “Screen Queens Rising,” exploring how Black actresses, a historically overlooked and undervalued group in Hollywood, have in recent years begun to ascend to the top echelons of entertainment and American culture. The special will reveal the lead actresses cast in Warner Bros.’ film adaptation of the beloved musical “The Color Purple” and feature an exclusive clip of “The Color Purple” producer Oprah Winfrey delivering the casting news to one of the actresses. “ABC News Live Prime” anchor Linsey Davis is first to interview the actresses playing Celie and Sofia in the film.

“Screen Queens Rising” examines how Black actresses of Hollywood have become power brokers as well as the iconic moments and roles that have paved the way for them today. The special, hosted by Davis and ABC News senior national affairs correspondent Deborah Roberts, includes Roberts’ interview with actress Tessa Thompson and ABC News’ “GMA3: What You Need to Know” co-anchor T.J. Holmes’ interview with actress and director Halle Berry. The hour also features interviews with actresses Debbie Allen, Jackée Harry, Marla Gibbs and Regina Hall; and entertainment reporters who look back at the first milestones for Black women in Hollywood, discussing the triumphs, the obstacles and those who blazed the trail. The special includes the return of the fan-favorite “In the Kitchen” discussion moderated by “The View” co-host Sunny Hostin. “Soul of a Nation Presents: Screen Queens Rising” airs Thursday, Feb. 3 (8:00-9:00 p.m. EST), on ABC.

Following “Screen Queens Rising,” ABC News’ “Soul of a Nation Presents: X / o n e r a t e d – The Murder of Malcolm X and 55 Years to Justice” profiles Muhammad Abdul Aziz, a man who was wrongfully convicted of Malcolm X’s assassination. Conducted by ABC News “Nightline” co-anchor Byron Pitts, the special features the first TV interview with Aziz since his exoneration and retraces Malcolm X’s shocking 1965 assassination, Aziz’s decades behind bars and on parole, and the devastating impact on Aziz’s family. “X / o n e r a t e d” features interviews with family and advocates of Aziz, including his wife Paula McLellan, son Craig Butler, daughter Edris B. Green and independent historian Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, as well as A. Peter Bailey, a friend and associate of Malcolm X who was at the Audubon Ballroom on the day of the assassination. The special also includes interviews with those who conducted the joint reinvestigation that ultimately led to Aziz‘s exoneration in November 2021, including Aziz’s civil rights attorneys David Shanies and Deborah Francois, Innocence Project attorney Vanessa Potkin and former Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who was interviewed by ABC News chief justice correspondent Pierre Thomas. The special will have interviews with Shahid Johnson, Ameen Johnson and Khalil Ibn Islam, the children of the late Khalil Islam, who was also wrongfully convicted for the assassination of Malcolm X and posthumously exonerated, as well as Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah Shabazz. Journalists, filmmakers and activists reflect on the enduring legacy of Malcolm X and raise larger questions about how and why both the assassination and the wrongful convictions happened and why it took so long to resolve. The special also includes a cold open featuring Academy Award®-nominated trumpeter Terence Blanchard and actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, star of ABC’s “Abbott Elementary,” spoken-word performance of the classic poem “Malcolm X” by Gwendolyn Brooks. X / o n e r a t e d” airs Thursday, Feb. 3 (9:00-10:00 p.m. EST), on ABC.

“Soul of a Nation Presents: Screen Queens Rising” and “Soul of a Nation Presents: X / o n e r a t e d – The Murder of Malcolm X and 55 Years to Justice” is produced by ABC News. Catherine McKenzie and Seni Tienabeso are executive producers, and Candace Smith Chekwa is supervising editor for “Screen Queens Rising.” Jeanmarie Condon and Melia Patria are executive producers, and Stephanie Wash is senior editorial producer for “X / o n e r a t e d.” “Screen Queens Rising” and “X / o n e r a t e d” are directed by Tine.

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ABC News Media Relations
Curt Villarosa
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Vinny Steves
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