Casting is coming together on ABC’s When We Rise, a miniseries event from Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. EW has learned that Guy Pearce, Mary-Louise Parker, and Rachel Griffiths have all joined the project in leading roles.
When We Rise chronicles the real-life personal and political struggles, setbacks, 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.
Within that movement, Pearce will play LGBT activist Cleve Jones, while Parker will portray women’s rights leader Roma Guy, and Griffiths will play Guy’s wife, social justice activist Diane.
Cleve Jones joined the gay liberation movement in 1972 and would go on to found the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and lead the National March for Equality in 2009. Roma Guy co-founded the San Francisco Women’s Building and then, as public health commissioner, worked to bring healthcare access to all citizens of San Francisco. Diane co-founded the Women’s Building and has worked as an HIV/AIDS nurse and social justice activist for 33 years.
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The miniseries is executive-produced by Dustin Lance Black, Laurence Mark, Bruce Cohen, and Gus Van Sant, with Van Sant on board to direct the two-hour premiere of the 7-episode series.
“It’s been the honor of my life to research and craft these stories of family, diversity and equality over the past three years,” Dustin Lance Black said in a statement. “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.”
Pearce, Parker, and Griffiths are also joined by Austin McKenzie, who will play a younger Cleve Jones, Emily Skeggs, who has signed on to play a younger Roma Guy, Jonathan Majors as a younger Ken Jones, and Fiona Dourif as a younger Diane.
There are multiple roles still left to be cast.