Icons Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance are putting a different kind of lens on this country’s history with the new docuseries One Thousand Years of Slavery.
The duo’s Bassett Vance Production will team with MTV Entertainment Studios for the docuseries directed by BAFTA winner and British-Nigerian director David Olusoga. Each episode the four-part series spotlights stories of notable individuals courageously sharing their deeply personal Black experiences. It’s the 1,000-year story of how slavery stained the past, shaped the present, and continues to rewrite our future.
“The Smithsonian Channel and Smithsonian brand are known around the world as a trusted resource that makes history accessible for all,” said Vance. “We couldn’t think of a better outlet to tell this important and increasingly relevant history. We are incredibly proud to be part of this journey.”
“As an executive producer on One Thousand Years of Slavery, Bassett Vance Productions wanted to tell the globally comprehensive history of slavery,“ said Bassett. “Finding the right partner and audience who share common beliefs and values was absolutely imperative as we navigate a topic that still hurts decades later. One Thousand Years of Slavery stretches the canvas beyond the 400 years we think we’ve traditionally learned about and I am thrilled to bring this storytelling to life with Smithsonian Channel.”
By sitting down with changemakers, inspirational creators, brave community leaders and emerging notable dreamers, the series shares unimaginable accounts from distinguished leaders including Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III, Senator Cory Booker, and actor David Harewood. Through preserved historical documentation and insight from studied experts, every story unfolds to chronicle how slavery frames the present and continues to act as a distinct force on the future. It’s a dialogue of reflection, oppression, and progression, offering diverse perspectives proving that this challenging yet imperative global conversation will continue for decades to come.
“We are honored to partner with Bassett Vance Productions on this long overdue landmark documentary series that reveals the untold story of human bondage on a global scale,” said Nina L. Diaz, President of Content and Chief Creative Officer at MTV Entertainment Group and for Unscripted and Adult Animation at Paramount+.
The docuseries explores diverse histories of survival and devastation that span across the globe – from Africa to the Caribbean, London to Washington DC, and more. Olusoga added, “Slavery is not that long ago. It’s really recent. It’s painfully close to us, and it’s no surprise it’s still shaping our societies. Our aim is to break away from just seeing the slave trade as a phenomena that exists after the conquest and discovery of the New World, but to look back. It’s to set what happened in the New World in context, that it came from somewhere.”
Check out a preview of the docuseries below.
James Blue, Head of Smithsonian Channel and SVP of MTV News and Docs, and Pamela Aguilar, VP of Original Documentaries will oversee this project for MTV Entertainment Studios and Smithsonian Channel. One Thousand Years of Slavery is produced by Uplands Television Ltd. for Smithsonian Channel and Channel 5. Bassett Vance Productions will executive produce the limited series.
Bassett Vance Productions is repped by Darrell Miller, Fox Rothschild LLP.