ELLE (Canada) - - Radar -

Cana­dian au­thor Lawrence Hill’s ac­claimed his­tor­i­cal novel The Book of Ne­groes is get­ting the small-screen treat­ment this win­ter on CBC. Aun­janue El­lis, 45, plays lead char­ac­ter Ami­nata Diallo, who, as a child, is sold into slav­ery and sur­vives an un­be­liev­able jour­ney, from a plan­ta­tion in South Carolina to free­dom in Canada, be­fore re­turn­ing to Africa. El­lis gave us three rea­sons to watch:

1. The story about a woman from the 1700s still mat­ters. “Ami­nata is a big-time fem­i­nist. This is a woman in the 18th cen­tury who said ‘I am go­ing to take con­trol of my own life, I’m go­ing to write my own story, I’m go­ing to be re­spon­si­ble for where I stand po­lit­i­cally.’ While we have more con­trol now, we’re still deal­ing with this is­sue of ‘What is wom­an­hood in the 21st cen­tury?’”

2. It’s a nec­es­sary con­ver­sa­tion starter. “We think of slav­ery as an ar­chaic thing, but lit­tle girls are still be­ing kid­napped in Africa. Un­til we solve these prob­lems as a civ­i­liza­tion, this story will al­ways have rel­e­vance.”

3. The role inspired her to cam­paign to re­move the Con­fed­er­ate flag from her home state of Mis­sis­sippi’s ban­ner. “I have a niece and a nephew, and one day, whether that flag is there or not, I want them to know their aun­tie tried to do some­thing. I have taken a lot of ac­tions since I got back from film­ing that I haven’t done be­fore. [Play­ing] Ami­nata had to do with that.” ■

Aun­janue El­lis and San­dra Cald­well in The Book of


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