By Richard Muhammad

ORLANDO, Fla. – Legendary actress Alfre Woodard and the director of a new movie, “12 Years A Slave,” set for release in October, screened clips of the fi lm and spoke with Black media professionals at the recent National Association of Black Journalists convention here.

“12 Years A Slave” is based on the actual life of Solomon Northrop, a free Black man lured from New York to Washington, D.C., where he was sold into slavery and languished on Louisiana for over a decade. Ms. Woodward, who took photos with conference goers before and after the Saturday session, talked about the importance of history and called the movie an important presentation of an aspect of Black history. The movie is a dramatic presentation, not a documentary, but includes substantial dialogue taken from the memoir.

Director Steve McQueen, a Black Brit whose family roots are in Trinidad, said Aug. 3 that he wanted to do a movie about slavery. When his wife suggested looking at slave accounts and then the Northrop memoir, he knew this was a story to be told. Mr. McQueen chose the story because he felt a broad audience would be able to relate to a sudden, unjust loss of freedom.


It is vital to examine history to get an understanding and move forward, stated Mr. McQueen. Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is of Nigerian descent, stars in the leading role of Solomon Northrop. Newcomer Lupita Nyong’o, who is from Kenya but was studying in the U.S. when she got a major role in the movie, is from Kenya. Brad Pitt also stars in the movie and director McQueen said without the mega-actors’ support, the movie would not have been made.

The film is set for release on October 18. Visit for film trailers and more information.