The Book of Negroes series looks to North Preston for casting
Cuba Gooding Jr. and Louis Gossett Jr. to star in TV series
A local production company is looking for African Nova Scotians to play background roles in The Book of Negroes TV miniseries, which will be filmed in a number of Nova Scotia locations over the next six weeks.
The series is based on the best-selling book of the same name written by Lawrence Hill.
Published seven years ago, the novel depicts the life of Aminata Diallo — an African woman who was kidnapped by slave traders in West Africa and sent to South Carolina.
She navigates her way through the American Revolution in New York, the isolated refuge of Nova Scotia and the jungles of Sierra Leone in a bid to secure her freedom.
Faye Cromwell was part of a steady stream of locals who came out for a casting call on Saturday, hoping to be captured on film as part of a series that has a lot of meaning to them.
"This particular series, I think, is going to help the rest of Canada, because I'm from Ontario and I'm sure they don't even really know this part of our history,” Cromwell said.
On Saturday background casting director Erin Hennessey took people's measurements and photos.
"We match those up in our computer and then we start looking for people who have the right look for the particular scene or someone who might fit into the right costume,” she said.
The cast of the series includes Oscar winners Cuba Gooding Jr. and Louis Gossett Jr.
Executive producer Damon D'Oliveira says the next segments will be filmed in small Nova Scotia towns including Shelburne, where many freed slaves came to live.
"The heroine is a black heroine who actually overcomes the horrendous psychological damage of slavery and manages to determine her own future in a way,” he said.
The Canada-South Africa co-production will air on CBC in Canada and BET in the United States in early 2015.
The Book of Negroes earned widespread praise. It sold nearly a million copies worldwide and also won a host of honours, including the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for best overall book and the 2009 edition of CBC's Canada Reads.