Harriet Tubman’s debut on the $20 bill has been delayed — but her silver screen spotlight is set.
The first trailer for “Harriet,” a biopic of the abolitionist and suffragette to be released Nov. 1, dropped Tuesday.
Tony Award winner Cynthia Erivo (“The Color Purple”) plays the title character, detailing her dramatic journey from runaway slave to nerves-of-steel anti-slavery icon.
The film from director-screenwriter Kasi Lemmons (“Eve’s Bayou”) opens with Harriet escaping a sadistic slave owner (played by Joe Alwyn, Taylor Swift’s boyfriend of period drama “The Favourite” fame). Using a river and the stars as her guides, she makes her way north to meet William Still (Leslie Odom Jr. of “Hamilton”), a Philadelphia-based abolitionist who shepherds fugitive slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad.
Unsatisfied with securing only her own liberation, Erivo’s Tubman becomes determined to brave the south once again to rescue her family. With the help of Marie (Janelle Monae) — a free black woman who trains Tubman to shoot — she eventually leads dozens of other enslaved African-Americans to freedom.
“Harriet” also will explore lesser-known parts of the historic woman’s life, including her battle with epilepsy, her work leading an armed unit of the Union Army during the Civil War, and her doomed marriage to John Tubman, who wed another after Tubman first fled north, Vanity Fair reported Tuesday.
It was hard to portray a woman who suffered so much hardship, Erivo told Vanity Fair in a revealing 2018 interview.
“If I was to stay in her body for a really long time, I would not make it out alive most days,” Erivo said. “It’s already gonna leave a scar on my soul. This is gonna be with me for the rest of my life. I’m fully ready for it.”
An image of Tubman was supposed to replace Pres. Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill in 2020, but the public won’t see her face on US currency for nearly a decade.
“The primary reason we’ve looked at redesigning the $20 bill is for counterfeiting issues,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Congress in May. “Based upon this, the new $20 bill will now not come out until 2028.”
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