Roma Downey and Mark Burnett on Diversity Casting for New “A. D.” Bible Series

Source: NBC A.D. Miniseries / Universal NBC
Source: NBC A.D. Miniseries / Universal NBC

There is a hot topic bubbling in Hollywood. It is the topic of diversity. For many years there was little to no color.

Although, Hollywood is a business, which is constantly in search of new ways to make a profit they must think differently to survive. The high-risk nature of the entertainment industry, combined with existing demographics, presents a barrier to diversity. Television has recently seen highly diverse shows succeed in greater numbers, such as How To Get Away With Murder, Black-ish, Empire, Jane The Virgin and Fresh Off The Boat.

Looking into the rosters of the industry’s three dominant talent agencies (all unnamed in the report), minority film directors and writers remain largely underrepresented. And only 12.2 percent of minority film leads in 2013 were represented by these agencies. Minority television show creators are also underrepresented in the leading talent agencies, and only 5.6 percent of minority broadcast scripted leads were represented by the top three talent agencies.

Well, this coming weekend Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett are bringing diversity to the bible. They decided to jump on for a quick chat about the miniseries they have produced. A.D. Executive producers Roma Downey (“The Bible”) and Mark Burnett (“The Bible,” “The Voice”) comes an uplifting spiritual journey through the later chapters of biblical history. “A.D. The Bible Continues” picks up where the smash hit miniseries “The Bible” left off, continuing the greatest story ever told and exploring the exciting and inspiring events that followed the Crucifixion of Christ.

The immediate aftermath of Christ’s death had a massive impact on his disciples, his mother, Mary, and key political and religious leaders of the era, completely altering the entire world in an instant. Beginning at that fateful moment of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, “A.D. The Bible Continues” will focus on the disciples who had to go forward and spread the teachings of Christ to a world dominated by political unrest, and the start of a whole new religion that would dramatically reshape the history of the world. The stunning casting is one thing that stands out from other biblical depictions that have graced screens before.

Last year they did it with the casting of Sampson in the initial installment The Bible. This time they are doing it in a bigger way!

Elev8: Why did you decide to do A.D. The Series after the Bible Series?

Roma: Creating The Bible Series was a blast. But it was unfinished business–there was more of the Word to be told. For Mark and I it is an honor to be able to bring the Bible to a new generation. So we couldn’t stop after The Bible.

Mark: We serve a God who loves all people equally. But casting for religious programming has not been as equality-focused.

Elev8: Why is it important to have greater diversity in A.D. The Series?

Roma: The actors playing James, John, Mary Magdalene & more are simply amazing. This isn’t token diversity. They’re just GOOD. We are excited that A.D. reflects the beautiful tapestry that is the church. It’s an important step.

Mark: So the cast on this it is very diverse – but here’s the thing – they’re also the best possible actors for the role.

Click here for more.

Oretha Winston

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