Star Wars‘ John Boyega and Black Panther‘s Letitia Wright have signed up to appear in Small Axe, a new anthology series from 12 Years a Slave/Widows director Steve McQueen.
The six-part series will tell five standalone stories set within London’s West Indian community from the late ’60s to the early ’80s. The first story will be told over two hour-long episodes, with the remaining four episodes told in single hour-long instalments. They’ll debut next year, on BBC One in the U.K. and Amazon Prime in the U.S.
“I felt these stories needed to be shared. I wanted to re-live, re-evaluate and investigate the journeys that my parents and the first generation of West Indians went on to deliver me here today calling myself a Black British person,” McQueen said in a press release.
“What’s important about our stories is that they are local but at the same time global. I think audiences will identify with the trials, tribulations and joy of our characters as well as reflecting on the present environment in which we find ourselves. The dynamic nature of the series allows us to confront injustice in the face of adversity hence the proverb Small Axe, ‘if you are the big tree, we are the small axe’ (Bob Marley).”
Between 1948 and 1970, nearly half a million people moved from the Caribbean to the U.K. to help ease labor shortages in the wake of World War Two. Though encouraged to come to the U.K. by a succession of British governments, many members of the so-called “Windrush generation”–named after HMT Empire Windrush, a ship which brought one of the first large groups of Caribbean immigrants into Britain–experienced extreme racial prejudice when they arrived and for decades to come.
Other cast members confirmed for Small Axe include Malachi Kirby (Black Mirror), Shaun Parkes (Hooten & The Lady), Rochenda Sandal (Black Mirror: Bandersnatch), Alex Jennings (A Very English Scandal, The Queen) and Jack Lowden (Mary Queen of Scots). McQueen started shooting the series on location in London earlier this week.
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