John Legend Is Playing Frederick Douglass on 'Underground'

by Raphael Chestang 6:16 PM PDT, September 30, 2016
Photo: Getty Images

Underground executive producer John Legend will guest star as abolitionist Frederick Douglass in the second season of the WGN America drama.

Legend, an activist whose multi-platinum selling music has inspired fans across the globe, will portray the orator and author who was born into slavery, but became one of the most revolutionary leaders of the 19th century after escaping bondage in Maryland.

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The casting news comes after the network announced Aisha Hinds will be stepping into a recurring guest star role as Harriet Tubman.

Last month, Legend opened up about what drew him to the Civil War drama.

"I studied African American studies and I read these slave narratives and the escape narratives of people that were able to escape slavery, and always found those stories intriguing and powerful and inspiring," Legend told ET in August. "And when I saw the treatment of it in the script, I thought this was the perfect show for us to do and so we did it."

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The series centers on a group of slaves planning a daring 600-mile escape from a Georgia plantation using the Underground Railroad.

"If you think about it, it's kind of a wonder why this subject has never really been addressed in this thorough of a way before," Legend added. "If you look at what happened with Underground Railroad there is so much action. There is so much intrigue, there is so much of historical importance."