“The Good Lord Bird” is a winner. The critically-acclaimed series has been heralded for its exploration into the legacy of the American abolitionist leader John Brown (Ethan Hawke), told from the point of view of a fictional enslaved boy, named Henry “Onion” Shackleford (Joshua Caleb Johnson).

The seven-episode series, based on the award-winning 2013 novel of the same name written by James McBride, sees the pair through the lens of various historical events, leading up to the famous 1859 raid on the Federal Armory at Harpers Ferry, Va. While Brown’s plan to start a slave revolt was ultimately unsuccessful, the event is known to be a catalyst for the Civil War.

Since the historical drama’s debut on Showtime last fall, the limited series has already earned three Satellite Awards, as well as a spot on AFI’s best of 2020 list, and on Tuesday, picked up a Peabody Award.

But the real win for “The Good Lord Bird” cast and crew has been bringing the largely untold story of John Brown to light, albeit in an unconventional, and sometimes comedic, way.

In the Variety Streaming Room presented by Showtime, film and media reporter Angelique Jackson discussed the series with director Kevin Hooks, Johnson and Hawke, who described its tone as “it was as if Redd Foxx was telling you the story of John Brown.”

“[The series] had the opportunity to do something that is very difficult in this country to do, which is to get white people and Black people together talking about race and talking about the country’s history on the subject matter that is so hurtful and so painful and so full of storms,” Hawke said. “And yet, he told the story with so much love, seeing it through the eyes of Onion, Joshua’s character. The key is, it’s not John Brown’s story, it’s Onion’s story.”

In many ways, filming the show was a coming-of-age experience for both Johnson and the character he portrayed. Touching on the six months he spent on set, the young actor said he learned a “mind-blowing” amount from the veteran actors he worked with, in a ensemble cast that features Daveed Diggs, Wyatt Russell, Steve Zahn, Orlando Jones and Keith David, among others.

“It just was very heartwarming for me because they all felt kind and genuine enough,” Johnson said. “They all appreciated me enough to really sit down and teach me and talk to me about various experiences and how I can better myself and better my acting and really hone my skills.”

Watch the full conversation above.