In a moment of racial reckoning, Kamilah Forbes quickly turned ‘Between the World and Me’ into a film

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Apollo Theater executive producer Kamilah Forbes created a stage version of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s book “Between the World and Me.” Now she’s directed an updated film adaptation that’s streaming on HBO Max. Photo by Lelanie Foster/HBO

In the new film version of “Between the World and Me,” now streaming on HBO Max, Black actors and activists perform stirring monologues from Ta-Nehisi Coates’s 2015 book. 

Coates wrote his memoir and meditation on race in America in the form of a letter to his then 15-year-old son. In the movie, Oprah Winfrey, Angela Davis, Angela Bassett, Mahershala Ali and Wendell Pierce bring that letter to life. 

Kamilah Forbes directed “Between the World and Me,” which is actually her second adaptation of the book. She created a stage version in 2018 for Harlem's famous Apollo Theater, where she is the executive producer. 

Forbes wasn’t thinking about making a movie of the book, but then came outrage in the streets over the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. 

Feeling that this was a moment of reckoning, Forbes moved with lightning speed to start work on a movie version of “Between the World and Me.”  She explains how she did it, using remote technology and skeleton crews to capture performances in six cities across the country, and why she felt HBO was the best fit for this project. She also reacts to the powerful and overwhelming feedback she’s received about the film since it started streaming over the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Credits

Guest:
Kamilah Forbes - Executive producer of the Apollo Theater, director of “Between the World and Me” - @Kamilahf

Host:
Kim Masters

Producer:
Kaitlin Parker