Inspired by Kent Anderson Leslie’s novel, “Woman of Color, Daughter of Privilege: Amanda Dickson,” the Paris Qualles screenplay for “A House Divided” attracted Emmy-award winning helmer John Kent Harrison to direct the Showtime Networks drama about the effects of American slavery in the mid-1800s.
The made-for cable pic stars an award-winning ensemble cast of “Law & Order’s” Sam Waterston, “The Practice’s” Lisa Gaye Hamilton, “Flashdance’s” Jennifer Beals and “The Fugitive’s” Tim Daly. The story for “A House Divided” “works as a parable since America was made by black and white people,” says Waterston, who is also a producer in the drama. “In order to enjoy the full promise of its future, it has got to sort out its past.”
Nominated for Outstanding Mini-Series or Dramatic Special, “A House Divided” does not offer a secret love affair between a generous slave owner and faithful slave. Rather, the story reveals that within one household lies a past of rape, deception and denial. “I’m always intrigued by the topic of slavery since I’m African-American and it’s very much a part of my history and culture. Our story looks at the issue of acceptance within the diverse cultures when one parent is black and the other is white, and how one views oneself. It’s a topic that’s not often explored in film or TV,” says Hamilton.
With one of the first award nominations for “A House Di-vided” to come from the NAACP Image Awards, there is a sense of promise that television can be held accountable for the images and stories that correctly reflect the images and history of African-Americans.
Sharon Byrens, one of the producers, says: “We’re very proud of all of the recognition that the project is starting to achieve. It’s one of the very many African-American stories on the Showtime net-work, and we’re glad that people are watching with pride.”