FX’s ‘Kindred’ Brings Octavia Butler’s Novel To Screen, Explores How Systemic Oppression Can Time Travel

Octavia E. Butler proved to be ahead of her time by crafting novels that intertwined surrealism into the reality of race and systemic oppression. FX takes a dive into Butler’s sci-fi novel Kindred with a new series of the same name. 

In FX’s adaptation, a Black woman named Dana, who aspires to be a TV writer in Los Angeles, is transported from modern-day times to a slave plantation in Maryland. Dana is joined by a white male (Kevin) who is her love interest in modern-day times, but becomes her slave master in this alternate world of the past. 

In its first season, Kindred explores how race and systemic oppression can continue to impact American lives today as it did when slavery was legal in this nation. 

Atlanta Daily World recently sat down with several actors in Kindred who shed light on the project. Sheria Irving (Olivia), Austin Smith (Luke), and Sophina Brown (Sarah) provide insight. 

Octavia Butler was ahead of her time in the world of sci-fi. Were any of you familiar with her work prior to this project?

Austin Smith: Yes. I read the book for the first time in 2018. And I couldn’t put it down. I was just so amazed how somebody was depicting American slavery in a way that I had never experienced in literature or movies before. And when this project came around, I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of it. Our showrunner Branden Jacobs Jenkins was just a genius in his own right. It just feels like such an honor to be in the hands of these two writers.

Sheria Irving: I was a big fan of her work as well. One of my favorite books of hers is Fledgling, which is her last novel. I hadn’t read Kindred before I got the role. But after reading it, I realized how powerful of a project this would be, and how much of an honor it would be to to honor enslaved people, to uplift them. I love all of her work. The characters that she creates, and the worlds that she creates.

How does this project show the atrocities of slavery are still connected to what’s happening, present day?

Sophina Brown: Have you ever heard of post traumatic slave syndrome? That’s what that it’s a real thing. We talk about it all the time. Generational trauma, we are living with the effects of slavery today.

Sheria Irving: It’s in our DNA. Absolutely. Another fun fact. Did you know that all of the eggs that a woman has she’s born with? So that means that you were in your mother’s womb, and your grandmother’s womb and your great grandmother’s womb. You are living and breathing that trauma in the womb as an egg. So we are living it today. And I think that Kindred hopefully will allow us to open up some more dialogue and more conversation so that we can start the healing process.

View full interview below: 

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