Disney+ Reveals Major Casting News for Malcolm X and MLK Series

By Rebecca Theodore-Vachon 

Disney+ and National Geographic have revealed the cast for their original series Genius: MLK/X.

Kelvin Harrison Jr. (Waves, Trial of the Chicago 7) will play Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., and Aaron Pierre (The Underground Railroad) will play Muslim leader and human rights activist Malcolm X. Weruche Opia (I May Destroy You) will play Coretta Scott King, and Jayme Lawson (The Batman) will play Betty Shabazz.

The Genius anthology series focuses on untold stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators. Premiering in 2017 on National Geographic, the first season, which earned 10 Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Limited Series, starred Geoffrey Rush as scientist Albert Einstein. Season 2 followed the life of Picasso with Antonio Banderas playing the titular artist, and Season 3 focused on soul singer Aretha Franklin (played by Cynthia Erivo).


In a first for the franchise, the new season will focus on two iconic geniuses: MLK Jr. and Malcolm X.

MLK/X is based on Jeff Stetson’s The Meeting and Peniel E. Joseph’s The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

Executive Producers Reggie Rock Bythewood and Gina Prince-Bythewood also announced they had assembled The Think Tank of Cultural, Religious and Political Scholars to consult on the series, which includes Columbia University, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, The Race Card Project, Muslim Wellness Foundation and First Corinthian Baptist Church.

MLK/X is set to start shooting in Atlanta next month.