The eight-part drama sees Michaela Coel star as Kate Ashby, the adopted daughter of one of the International Criminal Court’s leading prosecutors, as she becomes unintentionally entangled in her mother’s work, alongside barrister, Michael Ennis (John Goodman).
The action takes Kate and Michael on a cross-continental journey as they unveil a mystery relating to her heritage (her mother Eve, played by Harriet Walter, adopted her during the Rwandan Genocide in the 1990s).
Find out everything you need to know about the cast of Black Earth Rising below.
Kate Ashby played by Michaela Coel
Who is Kate Ashby? A child at the time of the Rwandan Genocide, Kate was adopted and brought to England by international prosecutor Eve Ashby. She has experienced mental health problems throughout her youth, and is slowly on the path to follow in her mother’s footsteps, working as a legal investigator.
Where have I seen Michaela Coel before? She wrote and starred in her own sitcom, Chewing Gum, which ran for two seasons on E4, and is the only person to appear in TWO episodes of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror: season four’s USS Callister and season three’s Nosedive.
Eve Ashby played by Harriet Walter
Who is Eve Ashby? A world-renowned human rights lawyer, who works frequently for the International Criminal Court.
Where have I seen Harriet Walter before? She is best known for her film roles Sense & Sensibility, and Atonement, but told Radio Times last year that she’d had more fan mail for her six-word scene in Star Wars: The Force Awakens than anything else in her career. As for TV roles, she has appeared in US drama Succession, Flowers season two, Patrick Melrose, Call The Midwife, The Crown, Downton Abbey, Waking the Dead and Hard Times. Not bad, right?
Michael Ennis played by John Goodman
Who is Michael Ennis? An American-born lawyer who lives and works in London, and is an old friend of Eve Ashby’s, and a mentor to Kate. Michael brings Eve’s attention to the case that the ICC is bringing against a Rwandan militia leader, and helps to convince the court to take her on as lead prosecutor.
Where have I seen John Goodman before? He is best known for his roles in Roseanne and the Coen Brothers’ films The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou? Barton Fink and Inside Llewyn Davis. He also had memorable roles in Flight, Argo, The Artist and The Borrowers. Goodman will appear in Roseanne spin-off The Connors which was commissioned by ABC after Roseanne Barr was fired from her eponymous show.
Alice Munzero played by Noma Dumezweni
Who is Alice Munzero? A public servant in the Rwandan civilian administration, who, after being forced to flee Rwanda during the genocide, formed a part of the military force that brought it to an end.
Where have I seen Noma Dumezweni before? She is best known for playing grown-up Hermione Granger in the original London cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child before transferring with the production to Broadway. Noma has also appeared alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor and Audrey Tautou in Dirty Pretty Things, and guest starred in Doctor Who, Casualty, Holby City and Electric Dreams.
Eunice Clayton played by Tamara Tunie
Who is Eunice Clayton? The assistant secretary at the Bureau of African Affairs in the US State Department, who came to know Michael Ennis, Eve Ashby and Alice Munezero during her time at an NGO in the wake of the Rwandan genocide.
Where have I seen Tamara Tunie before? Tunie currently stars in Amazon’s Dietland and Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul, and has featured in major films such as Flight (alongside Denzel Washington and her Black Earth Rising co-star John Goodman), and the Devil’s Advocate. She is best known in the US for her role as Dr Melinda Warner in Law & Order: SVU.
Bibi Mundanzi played by Abena Ayivor
Who is Bibi Mundanzi? The current Rwandan president, who was recently re-elected to office by an overwhelming majority. As a child, she lost her family while fleeing Rwanda as a refugee, and returned as a member of the militia forces to end the genocide in 1994.
Where have I seen Abena Ayivor before? She featured alongside Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo in A United Kingdom.
David Runihura played by Lucian Msamati
Who is David Runihura? A special advisor to the president of Rwanda.
Where have I seen Lucian Msamati before? He starred as Salladhor Saan in Game of Thrones, George Chichester in BBC2 drama Taboo, Ken Barnaby in Luther, and Guido in The Vampires of Venice episode of Doctor Who.
This article was originally published in September 2018
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