Djimon Hounsou to Lead Tony Kaye’s African History Y

Djimon Hounsou to Lead Tony Kaye’s African History Y

If the film title African History Y sounds like a familiar knock-off, it should. Back in 1998, Tony Kaye created a marvel of a movie wrapped in a grueling sociopolitical statement called American History X.

On the surface, this is a movie about the neo-Nazi movement attributed to Skinheads in our country. Yet, if you look beyond the visceral hate and anathema of bigotry, you will see this movie is really about how the love of family can — and should — overcome the strongest of forces, even racial hatred.

Edward Norton is masterful as Derek Vineyard, a skinhead sent to prison for killing two black men trying to break into his home. The rest of the movie is about his plight to get back to his home while he is discovering what it really means to be a human being.

That was 1998. And now 22 years later, Tony Kaye is back with not a sequel but a parallel, African History Y. And it will star Djimon Hounsou in what will have to be another award-nominated role.

No Stranger to the Struggle

Djimon Hounsou's powerful role as Cinque, a slave on the boat Amistad
Hounsou as Cinque in the Oscar-nominated film ‘Amistad’
(Source: DreamWorks/Amblin Entertainment)

According to the Deadline exclusive, Kaye is keeping the plot under wraps, only to unveil African History Y will be “a story of tragedy and redemption.” Djimon Hounsou, originally from Cotonou, Benin, in west Africa, has tapped into his proud heritage a few times in the past for film in powerful fashion.

Most notably as Cinque, who was brought to Antebellum America onboard the boat Amistad from Cuba (yes, that was a true story–one you should see from Steven Spielberg). When Cinque arrives on American soil, there is an argument brewing among the political elite: “Are the Mende people slaves or free?”

Hounsou is versatile, persuasive, and a force on screen when given the chance. And Kaye believes when African History Y comes to the screen, we’ll feel it.

Djimon and I met just after I did American History X. It was a cathartic meeting, and I knew immediately that he was an actor that I had to work with. The material had to be right, and thank God, now we have a project to work together on. The color cameras inside my head are ready to go to work in Africa.

Tony Kaye, Deadline, September 2020

African History Y: DJIMON HOUNSOU’S DESTINY

Djimon Hounsou will lead the new Tony Kaye film African History Y
Djimon Hounsou in “The Legend of Tarzan.”
(Credit: Jonathan Olley / Warner Bros. Entertainment via AP)

The man is not typecast at all. We’ve celebrated him in movies that span genres, such as horror (A Quiet Place II), drama (Same Kind of Different as Me), action (Furious 7), and, of course, CBMs (GOTG, Aquaman, Shazam!). However, when he is required to do so, he can reach down and collect raw emotion that must be innate. Other movies where the African History Y star has leaned on his lineage are:

  • The Legend of Tarzan, Chief Mbonga (2016)
  • Blood Diamond, Solomon Vandy (2006)
  • Gladiator, Juba (2000)
  • And he was even Black Panther in the animated TV miniseries of 2010

African History Y will prove to be no different, but definitely his most powerful…

African History Y could not have come at a better time as I explore bringing more extraordinary African stories to the world. I’m excited to be working with Tony, and it’s somewhat pre-ordained that he and I have come full circle to work with each other.

Djimon Hounsou, Deadline, September 2020

The time is now not to see why all lives matter, but why black lives have amassed as champions considering their ancestry and endured abhorrence.

Kaye is writing the script alongside Charles Chanchori and Jason Corder, and Kaye will also produce with DeForrest Taylor, Marc Le Chat, and Raymond J. Markovich. The film is rumored for a 2022 release.

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