SAMUEL L. JACKSON
THE LOST HISTORY OF THE TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE
Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, is a 6x1 hour television series about 400 years of human trafficking from Africa to the New World. The series is led by Hollywood icon and human rights activist, Samuel L. Jackson.
Over 12 million Africans - men, women and children - were kidnapped and sold into slavery. At least 10% - 2 million people! - died en route. It’s a story of brutality and inhumanity. It’s also a story of resistance, accomplishment and hope.
The series tracks the efforts of Diving with a Purpose (DWP), an offshoot of the National Association of Black Scuba Divers, as they put together a multi-racial group of men and women, to search for and locate six slave ships that went down with their human cargo. The divers are charismatic and articulate. These modern day adventures serve as springboards to tell the stories of the ideology, economics and politics of slavery. The series also celebrates stories of resistance, the cultures left behind and the culture that we live in... a culture that, in many ways, was born in the bowels of those slave ships.
Enslaved is a Canada/UK co-production between Toronto-based Associated Producers and London-based Cornelia Street Productions. Simcha Jacobovici directs, Ric Esther Bienstock, Sarah Sapper and Felix Golubev produce, with executive producers Samuel L. Jackson, LaTanya Jackson, Eli Selden, Rob Lee, Simcha Jacobovici, Ric Esther Bienstock, Sarah Sapper and Yaron Niski.
EPISODE 1: “CULTURES LEFT BEHIND”
Episode 1 launches the epic story of the transatlantic slave trade, as told from the ocean floor. Hollywood icon and human rights activist Samuel L. Jackson goes on a personal journey. He has traced his DNA to the Benga tribe of Gabon. In this episode, he goes to meet the tribe of his ancestors for the first time. They treat him like a long lost son who has made his way back home and initiate him into the tribe. But Jackson goes one step further – he turns his personal odyssey into a monumental effort to educate the planet about the transatlantic slave trade. To this end, he recruits divers from “Diving With a Purpose” (DWP) to go in search of sunken slave ships. This episode intercuts Samuel Jackson’s attempt to retrieve his past and the dive team’s search for a slave ship that went down off the Florida coast. In the process, viewers are exposed to the cultural legacy of Africa. This episode is shot on location in Gabon, Ghana and Florida.
EPISODE 2: “RATIONALIZATION”
In his quest to tell the story of the transatlantic slave trade, Samuel L. Jackson joins forces with two award-winning journalists, Simcha Jacobovici and Afua Hirsch, who go on location in the footsteps of the enslaved. How did people rationalize 400 years of trafficking and the murder of millions of Africans? In the ancient world, color was not a criterion by which people judged each other. So how did the ideology of racism begin? Jackson sends Jacobovici and Hirsch on a mission to understand the process that led Europeans to see slavery as not only profitable, but rational and justified. Parallel with this investigation, in the English Channel, DWP divers locate the earliest slave wreck ever found. They make history: retrieving an object that was buried for 350 years at a depth of 350 feet. This episode is shot on location in Ghana, the UK and Spain.
EPISODE 3: “FOLLOW THE MONEY”
Shot on location in Suriname, Brazil, Portugal and the UK, this episode investigates the economics of the slave trade, while searching for the sunken slave ship, “The Leusden”, in Suriname. This Dutch ship represents the single greatest loss of life during the entire slave trade. As “The Leusden” was going down, the crew nailed the hatches, drowning over 640 Africans that could have been saved. The owners of “The Leusden” didn’t hide this fact. On the contrary, owners typically made insurance claims for “lost cargo” for Africans who died en route. Navigating the jungles of Suriname, our divers go into the heart of darkness to solve this centuries-old mass murder. Parallel with this, Jackson, Jacobovici and Hirsch uncover insurance claims, mass graves and rare artifacts; piecing together the economic motives that drove centuries of suffering.
EPISODE 4: “NEW WORLD CULTURES”
Much of the “New World’s” culture was born in the bowels of slave ships, where Africans of different tribal origins interacted with each other and with the Europeans that trafficked in them. Shot on location in Costa Rica, Jamaica, Ethiopia and the United States, this episode explores music, food and science. There is much that is surprising here; Pirates, for example, were the first to treat blacks no different to white people, and food, that we consider “Southern cooking”, turns out to be African. Samuel Jackson visits Africatown, Alabama. Settled by liberated slaves, this is the only African town established in America. Here, Jackson meets up with Dr. Joe’l Lewis Billingsley, the great granddaughter of one of the founders of Africatown, Cudjoe “Kazoola” Lewis, and with Grammy winning performer Rhiannon Giddens, who explores the African origins of the banjo. Most dramatically, the DWP divers help youths in Costa Rica discover their African heritage, by diving and identifying a sunken slave ship off their coast. Like the Costa Rican youth, viewers will be surprised to discover how much of our global culture– from reggae to mathematical fractals - was born in the bowels of the slave ships.
EPISODE 5: “RESISTANCE”
Films on slavery most often focus on Africans as victims. But the Africans also resisted! This episode investigates African resistance to slavery in Africa and the diaspora - from Ghana to the UK to America, where thousands of “runaways” risked their lives as part of the “Underground Railroad”. The DWP divers embark on an unprecedented investigation to positively identify the perfectly preserved wreck of a “Freedom Boat” in The Great Lakes – a schooner that ferried African Americans to freedom in Canada. They even identify the names of some of the runaways who were saved by the captain of the ship. Parallel with this, Jackson, Jacobovici and Hirsch investigate the roles that Africans played in resistance at home in Africa, mutinies on the high seas and the American Civil War. In a very moving sequence, they even reveal how, during the Harriet Tubman era, “negro spirituals” were also encoded messages for resistance.
EPISODE 6: “ABOLITION”
The final episode in this definitive series on the transatlantic slave trade explores the politics that brought the enslavement of Africans in the West to an end. Shot on location in the United Kingdom, the United States and Ghana, episode 6 intercuts the politics of abolition in Britain and the American Civil War with the search for “The London”, a ship that re-enslaved freed Africans from St. Lucia and illegally trafficked them to England. The slaver sunk under mysterious circumstances near Cornwall, drowning the dozens of Africans on board. The divers are determined to find the ship and solve the centuries-old cold case. The episode also features legendary Congressman John Lewis, who recently passed away. The final of the series takes us through a moving montage that is both haunting and beautiful.
SAMUEL L. JACKSON
Samuel L. Jackson is not only an actor and film producer but a multi-award winning American icon. He is ranked as the highest all-time box office star with nearly $5 billion in total box office gross, and has appeared in more films than any other actor that grossed $1.7 billion domestically. Jackson has achieved prominence and critical acclaim in such films as Pulp Fiction, Jurassic Park, Django Unchained, Shaft, Snakes on a Plane, Star Wars, Iron Man as well as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, his likeness was used for the ultimate version of the Marvel Comics character “Nick Fury”. Heading into 2021, he has not slowed down his output and has four Hollywood films now slated for release.
Jackson has also provided his distinct voice for many animated blockbusters, including The Incredibles and video games including Grand Theft Auto. Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade is the first time that Jackson has agreed to host a non-scripted series. It’s a return to his first academic love - the ocean. Jackson initially majored in Marine Biology at Morehouse College. At the time, he was also heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement. After the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Jackson attended the funeral in Atlanta as one of the ushers.
Our series represents a perfect mix of Samuel L. Jackson as a dedicated actor, civil rights activist and diver with a lifelong passion for the ocean. He’s also traced his roots to the Benga people of Gabon. In the series, besides hosting, Jackson will go back to Gabon and stand in the very dungeons where his ancestors waited in chains for their passage to the New World.
LEAD INSTRUCTOR, BOARD MEMBER, DIVING WITH A PURPOSE (DWP)
Over the past 26 years, Kramer has travelled to 35 countries as a scuba diver. He became a Master Scuba Diver Trainer in 2005. Kramer has spent the last seven years volunteering his time as a scuba instructor for inner city youth.
Before devoting his life to diving full time, Kramer also worked in government service for the City of Newark, New Jersey as a fire officer, fire investigator, deputy fire director and a brief stint as a municipal prosecutor.
Kramer is a graduate of Rutgers University and City University of New York Law School.
DIVER, DIVING WITH A PURPOSE (DWP)
Alannah Vellacott is a Bahamian marine ecologist. She has a Bachelor of Science in Ecology from South Dakota State University. Alannah was a former Bahamas Environmental Steward Scholar (BES Scholar) through Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF).
Alannah has volunteered and worked for non-profit environmental conservation organizations including the Cape Eleuthera Institute, BREEF, the Bahamas National Trust, Community Conch and The Nature Conservancy.
Alannah has also participated in shark and reef health research and has been a part of coral and conch restoration in The Bahamas.
DIVER, DIVING WITH A PURPOSE (DWP)
Kinga Philipps has travelled the globe scuba diving, free diving, surfing, jumping out of airplanes, spelunking and swimming with sharks as an award-winning writer, producer and on camera journalist.
Kinga is a fellow at the prestigious Explorers Club. She joins the likes of Elon Musk, James Cameron, Neil Armstrong, Robert Ballard, Silvia Earle, David Attenborough in this extraordinary family of explorers, who over the past 114 years, have dedicated themselves to the advancement of field research, scientific exploration, resource conservation and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore.
She lives in Malibu, CA to be close to the beach at all times.
JOSHUA ENOCH WILLIAMS
DIVER, UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHER
Josh has a degree in International Relations and Photography from San Francisco State University. He acquired his basic PADI certification in Thailand in 2001. He is currently member of the Los Angeles County Fire Department Search and Rescue Dive team.
DIVER, UNDERWATER CINEMATOGRAPHER
Richard Stevenson lives in the UK and is considered one of the best deep-sea divers in the world. He is a technical diving instructor and an underwater camera operator.
He has worked on many feature films including Marvel’s Doctor Strange and Tomb Raider. His television credits include Amazon’s The Grand Tour, Top Gear and Blue Planet 2. Richard has also worked on several documentaries including the James Cameron produced and Simcha Jacobovici directed Atlantis Rising for National Geographic.
LATANYA RICHARDSON JACKSON
LaTanya Richardson Jackson is a critically acclaimed actress of the stage and screen. In 2014, Richardson Jackson received a Tony Award Best Actress nomination for her performance as “Lena Younger” in the Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun.” She also received the Distinguished Performance Drama League Award nomination. In 2016, Richardson Jackson was honored with the NAACP Theater Awards Trailblazer Award in recognition of her pioneering theatrical contributions.
Last year, Richardson Jackson starred on Broadway as “Calpurnia” in Aaron Sorkin’s critically acclaimed adaptation of “ To Kill a Mockingbird,” alongside Jeff Daniels, Celia Keenan-Bolger and Dakin Matthews, and directed by Bartlett Sher.
Richardson Jackson, along with her husband Samuel L. Jackson, executive produced the EPIX docuseries “Enslaved” under their production company Uppi TV. The six-episode docuseries explores 400 years of human trafficking from Africa to the New World.
Richardson Jackson has received numerous awards for her philanthropic work including The United Negro College Fund and the N.Y. Keeper of the Dream Award. This year she was honored by the LadyLike Foundation, which is a faith based non-profit organization whose purpose is to educate, empower and inspire young women living in underprivileged communities. Richardson Jackson and her husband Samuel L. Jackson established the Samuel L. & LaTanya R. Jackson Foundation to carry out their commitment to a range of philanthropic issues in the United States and Africa.
LaTanya Richardson Jackson and her husband Sam have one incredible, Emmy Nominated daughter, the beautiful Zoe.
RIC ESTHER BIENSTOCK
Ric Esther Bienstock is an acclaimed Emmy Award-winning Canadian filmmaker best known for her investigative documentaries. From sex trafficking to the human organ trade, from corruption in the world of Boxing to Ebola, Bienstock’s hallmark is gaining unprecedented access to major international stories. Her films include “ The Accountant of Auschwitz”, “Ebola: Inside an Outbreak”, “Boxing: In and Out of the Ring” and “Ms. Conceptions”.
In 2020, Bienstock was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for “her commitment to raising awareness of global events and conflicts through film”. This is Canada’s highest civilian honour. In February 2015, she was awarded the Gordon Sinclair Award, Canada’s highest honour for Broadcast Journalism. Bienstock is the only female independent producer to ever receive this award.
Bienstock is the first Canadian to ever win two back-to-back Edward R. Murrow Awards for the films “Sex Slaves/The Real Sex Traffic” and “ Tales From the Organ Trade”, both of which she directed, co-produced and wrote.
Sarah Sapper has over twenty five years of experience in the production of award-winning documentary and factual programming. She founded Cornelia Street in 2018 to specialise in international co-productions. The company has offices in London and Dublin. As Commercial Director of Blink Films for ten years, she spearheaded the factual company’s international co-productions. These included the BAFTA Award-Winning “Mummifying Alan” for Channel 4 and National Geographic, “We’ll Meet Again” for PBS and International distributors, “Noah’s Ark” for Channel 4, PBS, Nat Geo and France 5 and “Monty Don’s Paradise Gardens” for BBC and All3 Media. Before Blink, Sarah was Head of Production at Tiger Aspect, one of the UK’s largest production companies.
Felix Golubev is an Emmy Award-winning Canadian producer. Felix has co-produced a diverse range of acclaimed award-winning films including Tales From the Organ Trade (HBO), a documentary that tackles the international black market in human organs; Sex Slaves (PBS Frontline, Channel 4, CBC), an expose into the trafficking of women from the former Soviet bloc; Selling of Innocents (HBO, CBC), a powerful expose of child sex trafficking from Nepal to India; Impact of Terror (CNN, CBC), the anatomy of a suicide bombing in a Jerusalem pizzeria; and The Lost Tomb of Jesus (Discovery, Channel 4, VisionTV). Felix was also a producer of the documentary special, Atlantis Rising for the National Geographic Channel Worldwide and Discovery Canada. This film was executive produced by James Cameron. Felix serves as Producer on Enslaved (Epix, CBC, BBC).
Yaron Niski is an award winning Israeli TV creator, screenwriter and director. Yaron created and wrote several scripted series and served as show runner and head writer of several studio satire shows that ran for more than 500 episodes. For the last five years, Yaron has worked on a number of historical documentary programs for international channels such as National Geographic and the Science Channel, including James Cameron’s “Finding Atlantis” and the award winning “ The Good Nazi”. He serves as co-creator and Executive Producer on “Enslaved” (Epix, CBC, BBC).
Rob Lee is a media executive, content producer/creator and Talent/Company representative. His areas of expertise include all creative and business aspects of the television and digital marketplace. He is currently a senior television
talent and packaging agent at United Talent Agency (UTA) with a specialty in unscripted content. “Enslaved” is Lee’s last producing project prior to joining UTA and appropriately the project he is most proud of. Lee attended Harvard College and Georgetown Law Centre. He resides in Los Angeles with his two daughters.
Eli Selden is a partner and manager/producer at Anonymous Content, a top Hollywood production company and talent and literary management firm. Her clients include Samuel L. Jackson, Omar Epps and Elizabeth McGovern. Her executive producer credits include the feature films EVE’S BAYOU, THE CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE, CHERRY FALLS, and CLEANER. Eli’s most recent produced film release was THE CHAPERONE from PBS Films, starring Elizabeth McGovern and adapted by Julian Fellowes from Laura Moriarty’s best-selling novel.
Toronto-based Associated Producers is one of the leading companies in the world of non-scripted documentaries. Associated Producers has garnered over 100 international awards for its documentaries including a DuPont Award from Columbia University School of Journalism, two Alfred R. Murrow Awards from the American Overseas Press Club and two Donald Brittain Awards from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.
When it comes to archaeology, Associated Producers won the Special Jury Prize of the Annual Archaeology Film Festival in Brussels. Associated Producers has also made two documentary specials, specifically involving underwater archaeology: “ The Struma” (HBO/Channel 4), the underwater search for a ship of Jewish refugees that sunk during the Holocaust and “Atlantis Rising” (National Geographic Channel), a modern day quest in pursuit of the legendary city, executive produced by James Cameron. With respect to human rights, Associated Producers has made many human rights films winning, among others, the Carl Spielvogel Award from the Overseas Press Club of America and the Amnesty International Award, at the International Human Rights Film Festival, San Sebastian.
Director/Producer Simcha Jacobovici has won numerous international awards including, three US Emmys in “Investigative Journalism”, a Certificate of Special Merit from the Academy Awards and the 2017 Gordon Sinclair Award, Canada’s highest achievement in broadcast journalism. For three seasons on the History Channel, Simcha hosted “ The Naked Archaeologist”. He has also been on-camera for many documentary specials including co-hosting with James Cameron “ The Exodus Decoded” (The History Channel) and “Atlantis Rising” (National Geographic). Simcha has been interviewed on numerous television shows including Anderson Cooper 360, Larry King Live, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, NBC Today and many others.
CORNELIA STREET PRODUCTIONS
Cornelia Street is a film and television production company specialising in factual stories with wide international appeal, especially in the areas of culture, arts and sport. It was founded in 2018, by Sarah Sapper and David Kerr; both of whom bring a wealth of TV experience at the highest level to the new company.
Sarah Sapper, MD, was Director of Blink Films for ten years. At Blink, she spearheaded the factual company’s international co-productions. These included the BAFTA Award-Winning “Mummifying Alan” for Channel 4 and National Geographic, “We’ll Meet Again” for PBS and International distributors, “Noah’s Ark” for Channel 4, PBS, Nat Geo and France 5 and “Monty Don’s Paradise Gardens” for BBC and All3 Media. Before Blink, Sarah was Head of Production at Tiger Aspect, one of the UK’s largest production companies. She has extensive experience in managing large productions across a range of factual genres.
David Kerr, Director, has over twenty-five years of experience in sports broadcasting and production. A former Head of Sport at Channel 4, David was responsible for the channel’s multi-BAFTA Award Winning Test Cricket and Horse-Racing coverage. He also commissioned the initial development and delivery of the Hawkeye technology that is now used in both cricket and tennis. Up until recently, he was MD at Eurosport UK for over a decade, where he ran two pay TV channels and a large in-house production operation, that covered a range of major events including the Olympic Games, Tennis Grand Slams and a Davis Cup Final. David has executive produced many documentaries in the sports field, including “Botham’s Ashes”, “ The Real Alf Ramsey” and a series about the life of Sir Jackie Stewart. In addition, David has commissioned many hours of sports lifestyle programming.
Fremantle is one the largest and most successful creators, producers and distributors of scripted and unscripted content in the world. A global entertainment powerhouse, Fremantle has an outstanding international network of production teams, companies and labels in over 30 countries. We produce in excess of 12,000 hours of original programming, roll out more than 60 formats and air 450 programmes a year worldwide. The group distributes over 20,000 hours of content in more than 200 territories. We are also a world leader in digital and branded entertainment, with more than 300 million subscribers across 1,400 social channels and over 100 billion views across all platforms.
We are part of RTL Group, a global leader across broadcast, content and digital, itself a division of the international media giant Bertelsmann.
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