The radicalization and militarization inherent in the "citizen and soldier" themes of WGN America's "Underground" Season 2 has provided a neat narrative throughline for everyone from Rosalee (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) to Elizabeth (Jessica De Gouw). But it's by Harriet Tubman's (Aisha Hinds) guidance that this resistance gained momentum in the first place.
Hinds faced multiple challenges in bringing her version of Tubman to the small screen -- and in Wednesday's (April 12) episode of "Underground," her performance as the abolitionist icon reaches new heights: "Minty," for lack of better terms, tells Harriet Tubman's story through the guise of "an 1800 TED Talk."
"Harriet Tubman would go around and she would, you know, talk about her experiences and act them out," Aisha Hinds tells Screener. "In Episode 6, they charge me with the responsibility of sharing her story, by way of an entire episode."
We love this "Underground" one woman show -- and to Hinds, the role was as intense as it was challenging: "There were so many challenges presented to me that seemed foreign and impossible," she explains. "I engaged my professors, you know, my college professors... And I was like, 'How do I approach telling the story -- the memorization of all this material?' They wrote me back with one word: IMPOSSIBLE."
It's one thing to take on the abolitionist icon, but another altogether to play Harriet Tubman with an hour's monologue to memorize. According to Hinds, it's a daunting task that almost ruined her.
"When a week before shooting happened, and I still didn't have a script, I began to melt down," Hinds says. "And it was in that moment that I realized that this wasn't supposed to ever be possible. This wasn't something I was actually supposed to be able to act! ...I was just supposed to serve the work, and surrender to it."
Sometimes, the best work you can do as an actor is to let go and simply rely on trust -- in the work, and in yourself. It's a valuable lesson and one that Hinds took with her once her time on the "Underground" set was finished.
"The teleprompter was no longer available, the earpiece failed me, and I was just out there -- with an open heart, waiting for Harriet. And she showed up."
Just incredible -- and the results are astounding.
"Underground's" Season 2 episode, "Minty," airs at a special time on Wednesday, April 12, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on WGN America.