PBS and WNET station Thirteen will premiere the documentary How It Feels To Be Free – produced by Yap Films and executive produced by Alicia Keys — in winter 2021 as part of PBS strand ‘American Masters’.
The film tells the story of how six African American female entertainers – Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier — “challenged an entertainment industry deeply complicit in perpetuating racist stereotypes, and transformed themselves and their audiences in the process.”
It will feature interviews and archival performances with all six women, as well as original conversations with contemporary artists influenced by them, including Keys, Halle Berry, Lena Waithe, Meagan Good, LaTanya Richardson Jackson and Samuel L. Jackson, as well a family members, including Horne’s daughter Gail Lumet Buckley.
The documentary — directed by Yoruba Richen (‘POV’: Promised Land, ‘Independent Lens’: The New Black) — is based on the book How It Feels To Be Free: Black Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement by Ruth Feldstein.
How It Feels To Be Free is produced by Yap Films in association with American Masters Pictures, ITVS, Chicken & Egg Pictures and documentary Channel in Canada.
Fremantle holds global distribution rights excluding the U.S. and Canada.
Photo: Nina Simone singing in Ronnie Scott club 1983/Janine Wiedel Photolibrary/Alamy Stock Photo