"This is the committee… the organizers and officers of the Underground Railroad, dedicated to helping slaves escape bondage," Philadelphia abolitionist William Stills (Leslie Odom Jr.) tells Harriet Tubman (Cynthia Erivo) in a clip from the new biopic Harriet (watch exclusively above). "No one sees this. Only the initiated."
Being "initiated" conjures up different images in today's popular lexicon: Obviously there was no hazing for Tubman to enter the secret society she becomes privy to in the sequence from the Kasi Lemmons-directed drama. But she sure battled her way to get there, no doubt, escaping her own enslavement and subsequently helping guide some 70 people on a treacherous journey from Maryland to Pennsylvania to gain their freedom in the mid-19th century.
Erivo, who won a Tony for The Color Purple and seamlessly crossed over into film last year with notable roles in Widows and Bad Times at the El Royale, is drawing early awards buzz for her portrayal of the American history icon.
Harriet, which premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, also stars Janelle Monae, Joe Alwyn and Jennifer Nettles. (Read our cast interview from Toronto here.) The film is now playing in select theaters.
Watch the trailer for Harriet:
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