Starring in the mini-series are Guy Pearce (“Memento,” “L.A. Confidential”) as LGBT activist Cleve Jones, Mary-Louise Parker (“Weeds,” “Angels in America”) as women’s rights leader Roma Guy, Rachel Griffiths (“Brothers and Sisters,” “Six Feet Under”) as her wife, social justice activist Diane, Michael K. Williams (“Boardwalk Empire,”“The Wire”) as African-American community organiser Ken Jones and Ivory Aquino as transgender-activist Cecelia Chung.
Joining them are Austin McKenzie (“Spring Awakening”) as Younger Cleve Jones, Emily Skeggs (“Fun Home”) as Younger Roma Guy, newcomer Jonathan Majors as Younger Ken Jones, and Fiona Dourif (“The Master”) as Younger Diane.
Cleve Jones, a young Quaker from Arizona, joined the gay liberation movement in 1972, was mentored by pioneer gay-rights leader Harvey Milk, founded the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, and led the National March for Equality in 2009.
Ken Jones, an African-American Vietnam veteran, joined the gay-liberation movement in San Francisco, only to discover and confront racism within the gay men’s community. For years he organised services for homeless youth, worked to diversify the gay movement, and led efforts to confront the devastation of the AIDS epidemic.
From rural Maine, Roma Guy is a lesbian and a long-time social justice leader who co-founded the San Francisco Women’s Building. Then, as a Public Health Commissioner, she worked with others to bring healthcare access to all San Franciscans. She is currently a criminal-justice activist.
Diane, a lesbian mother and grandmother of three, joined the Women’s Movement in the 1970s in San Francisco, co-founded the Women’s Building and has worked as an HIV/AIDS nurse and social justice activist at San Francisco General Hospital for 33 years.
Special guest stars include Henry Czerny, Whoopi Goldberg, Arliss Howard, Sam Jaeger, T.R. Knight, Mary McCormak, Kevin McHale, Rosie O’Donnell, Denis O’Hare, Pauley Perrette, David Hyde Pierce, Richard Schiff, Phylicia Rashad, Rob Reiner and William Sadler.
“When We Rise” is executive produced by the Dustin Lance Black (“Milk,” ”Big Love,” “J. Edgar”), Gus Van Sant (“Milk,” “Elephant,” “Good Will Hunting”) Laurence Mark (“Julie & Julia,”“Dreamgirls,”“I, Robot,” “Jerry Maguire”), and Bruce Cohen (“American Beauty,” “Milk,” “Silver Linings Playbook”). Van Sant directs the two-hour premiere of the eight-hour mini-series event. “When We Rise” is produced by ABC Studios.
When We Rise will be aired on ABC in the U.S this February – check local listing who is airing the series in your country.