The epic event limited ABC miniseries When We Rise has been cast with Mary-Louise Parker, Guy Pearce and Rachel Griffiths. written and created by Academy Award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. Starring in the event limited series are Guy Pearce (“Memento,” “L.A. Confidential”) as LGBT activist Cleve Jones, Mary-Louise Parker (“Weeds,” “Angels in America”) as women’s rights leader Roma Guy and Rachel Griffiths (“Brothers and Sisters,” “Six Feet Under”) as her wife, social justice activist Diane. The roles of African American community organizer Ken Jones and transgender activist Cecelia Chung are still to be cast, among others. Updates for airing will be posted on the ABC Full Schedule page.
When We Rise chronicles the real-life personal and political struggles, set-backs and triumphs of a diverse family of LGBT men and women who helped pioneer one of the last legs of the U.S. Civil Rights movement from its turbulent infancy in the 20th century to the once unfathomable successes of today.
Joining them are Austin McKenzie (“Spring Awakening”) as Younger Cleve Jones, Emily Skeggs (“Fun Home”) as Younger Roma Guy, newcomer Jonathan Majors as Younger Ken Jones, and Fiona Dourif (“The Master”) as Younger Diane.
The miniseries is executive produced by Dustin Lance Black (“Milk,” ”Big Love,” “J. Edgar”), Laurence Mark (“Julie & Julia,”“Dreamgirls,”“I, Robot,” “Jerry Maguire”), Bruce Cohen (“American Beauty,” “Milk”) and Gus Van Sant (“Good Will Hunting,” “Milk”) for ABC. Van Sant will direct the two-hour premiere of the seven-episode event limited series.
Cleve Jones, a young Quaker from Arizona, joined the gay liberation movement in 1972, was befriended by pioneer gay rights leader Harvey Milk, founded the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, and led the National March for Equality in 2009.
Ken Jones, an African-American Vietnam veteran, joined the gay liberation movement in San Francisco only to discover and confront racism within the gay men’s community. For years, he organized services for homeless youth as he faced the devastation of the AIDS epidemic.
From rural Maine, Roma Guy is a lesbian and a long time social justice leader who co-founded the San Francisco Women’s Building. Then, as a Public Health Commissioner, she worked with others to bring healthcare access to all San Franciscans. She is currently a criminal justice activist.
Diane, a lesbian mother and grandmother of three, joined the Women’s Movement in the 1970s in San Francisco, co-founded the Women’s Building and has worked as an HIV/AIDS nurse and social justice activist at San Francisco General Hospital for 33 years.
“It’s been the honor of my life to research and craft these stories of family, diversity and equality over the past three years,” said executive producer, Dustin Lance Black. “To have collaborators of this caliber sign on to help bring these stories to life is a tremendous vote of confidence, and I hope a testament to the relevancy and necessity of our continued march toward justice for all.”