Aunjanue Ellis Reunites with Ava DuVernay for Caste


Aunjanue Ellis and Ava DuVernay are reuniting for Caste, the adaptation of Isabel Wilkerson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller ‘Caste: Origins of Our Discontent.

“Caste” is a New York Times bestseller and an Oprah’s Book Club selection, and the nonfiction book uses a structure of multiple stories to examines the long history of race in America across generations. The book chronicles how our lives today in America are defined by a hierarchy of human divisions dating back generations.

Ellis will lead Caste with DuVernay directing, penning, and producing the film for Netflix. This is the second time the duo have worked together following their Emmy-nominated collaboration, Netflix’s “When They See Us.”

READ: Ava Duvernay’s Getting Her Own Ben and Jerry’s Flavor “Lights! Caramel! Action!”

Per GoodReads, here’s a rundown of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents and what themes you can expect from the upcoming Netflix movie:

Through a multiple-story structure, Caste examines the unspoken system that has shaped America and chronicles how our lives today are defined by a hierarchy of human divisions dating back generations. Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate.

Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Isabel Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people—including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others—she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.

ARRAY Filmworks’ Paul Garnes is also on board to produce.

Announced in October 2020 and set at Netflix, the independent film is financed by J4A. Production began in Georgia in December, with additional filming set to take place in Germany and India.

Filming is underway on the project.

READ: When They See Us Mother/Son Duo Aunjanue Ellis, Ethan Herisse Reunite For The Nickel Boys

The busy actress just finished working on Warner Bros.’ The Color Purple musical, Fox Searchlight’s The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat and Orion’s The Nickel Boys.

Back behind the camera for her first feature since 2018’s A Wrinkle In Time, ARRAY boss DuVernay recently saw the conclusion of the TV series Queen Sugar after seven seasons and the four-episode run of DMZ on HBO Max last year.

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