‘Genius: MLK/X’ Casts Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Martin Luther King Jr., Aaron Pierre as Malcolm X

‘Genius’: MLK/X
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images;Library of Congress/Marion S. Trikosko;David Reiss

Disney+ and National Geographic have announced the lead cast for the fourth installment of the anthology series Genius. Kelvin Harrison Jr. (The Trial of the Chicago 7) will star as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Aaron Pierre (The Underground Railroad) as Malcolm X.

Additionally, Weruche Opia (I May Destroy You) will play King’s wife Coretta Scott King, and Jayme Lawson (The Batman) will play Malcolm X’s spouse Betty Shabazz.

According to a press release, “Genius: MLK/X will explore the formative years, pioneering accomplishments, dueling philosophies, and key personal relationships of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Harrison Jr.) and Malcolm X (Pierre). While King advanced racial equality through nonviolent protest, Malcolm X argued forcefully for Black empowerment, identity, and self-determination. With their formidable wives, Coretta Scott King (Opia) and Betty Shabazz (Lawson), by their sides, King and Malcolm X became synonymous with the civil rights era and the fight for racial and economic justice. While they met only once and often challenged each other’s views, neither would have been as successful without the other.”

Genius: MLK/X‘s first episode will be directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples (Miss Juneteenth), who will also serve as co-executive producer alongside Reggie Rock Bythewood and Gina Prince-Bythewood. “We are beyond excited to have put together the incredible foursome of Kelvin, Aaron, Jayme, and Weruche to bring the depth, complexity, and humanity to these indelible icons,” said the Bythewoods. “They are all next level in their chops and their passion to tell this story.”

The Bythewoods also announced a think tank of renowned historians and experts will serve as production consultants before the writer’s room get together to help guide the production. Consultants include Jamal Joseph (Panther Baby: A Life of Rebellion and Reinvention), a former member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army, Peniel E. Joseph, author of The Sword and The Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., and Dr. Kameelah Rashad, the founder and president of the Muslim Wellness Foundation (MWF) nonprofit organization, to name a few.

Principal photography for Genius: MLK/X will begin in October 2022 in Atlanta.

Genius: MLK/X, Premiere, TBA, Disney+