For the Culture: After Black Panther, Actor Hill Harper is Bringing Us Protector of the Gods
On the heels of the success of Black Panther, actor and activist Hill Harper talks about Protector of the Gods, a new trilogy film project that tells the story of ancient Egypt from a definitely African viewpoint.
Protector of the Gods will display the journeys of the Pharaohs Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra. Hill, who will produce the trilogy with Archrok Entertainment, speaks to J.D. Myall about how the project came to be and why we need works like this.
Tell us about Protector of the Gods. What makes this project essential at this time?
Protector of the Gods is a trilogy which follows three of Egypt’s most powerful pharaohs: Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra. I believe the project is important because moviegoers also need to see the rich culture of Africa, and certainly not just through the lens of slavery. Kameko Tarnez has done an amazing job telling these stories from a distinctive, African perspective.
Tell us the story behind the story. How did Protector of the Gods come to be?
Kameko wrote the novel attached to the film in 2008. He then decided to turn it into a screen play, and here we are!
What made you decide to co-executive produce Protector of the Gods and collaborate with Archrok Entertainment?
I love to attach myself to meaningful new projects, and I feel that more diversity in film and storytelling is welcome.
As co-executive producer, what is your goal and vision for the project?
Our goal with this project is to teach those who are uninformed the truth about African history — and make a wonderfully entertaining and successful film, as well. If we can both entertain and educate, then we have done our job.
In the past, you’ve said “…it’s essential that moviegoers understand and watch historically accurate depictions of African history.” Why do you think that’s so essential?
Historically, Hollywood has told stories about Egypt using white actors and actresses. For example, Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra is not an accurate depiction of Cleopatra’s African roots. We seek to tell amazing stories of Egypt that we have not yet seen.
The success of Black Panther has shown that audiences have been craving films with African thematic and cultural connections on screen. Why do you think Hollywood does such limited exploration of these things?
I think Hollywood executives have been fearful to take risks on big budget films with all Black casts. Hopefully, the success of Black Panther will change that, and I’m excited. It has set the tone for more African-themed cinema magic.
Do you believe that projects like Protector of the Gods and Black Panther will help inspire the entertainment industry to give more accurate and diverse depictions of the African and African American experience?
Black Panther was fantastic, and I would only hope so. I believe that we’re absolutely heading in the right direction with projects such as these.
You have written about incarceration and social issues, and you started the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation. Can you speak on the importance of advocacy and activism in our current social and political climate?
I believe that giving back and staying rooted in our culture is very important for personal growth. I’ve learned so much from my social involvement in the community, and I am very passionate about continuing to share my knowledge and uplift those in need of support.
Will we be seeing any crossover between your television and film projects and the social issues that you champion?
As of now, my focus, as to TV, is my show The Good Doctor, a show that, in its own right, celebrates difference and overcoming obstacles. I hope the positive messaging in Protector of the Gods correlates with my efforts to uplift others through the arts.
While managing your leading role with ABC’s The Good Doctor, you’re also doing speaking engagements and staying engaged in your advocacy work. How do you find time to juggle it all?
I have an amazing team that helps me keep my schedule, but, most importantly, I love what I do — so it never feels like work.
When can people expect to see Protector of the Gods?
Late 2018, we will host exclusive previews of the film globally, which will excite the world and get them ready for the full experience. The official release will be 2019.
Is there anything you want to add that we didn’t cover?
For updates, please join the mailing list at protectorofthegods.com
What’s up next for Hill Harper?
Aside from Protector of the Gods, I am excited to be returning to the New York stage in a play [Our Lady of 121st Street] directed by the amazingly gifted Phylicia Rashad. It goes up this spring, at The Signature Theater.
How can people connect with you? (Twitter or web address, exc.)
I am @hillharper on all of my social media.
Thanks Hill, your acting and advocacy are an inspiration to us all.