“Genius: MLK/X” has set its premiere date at Nat Geo, the network announced Wednesday.
The first two episodes of the eight-episode fourth season of “Genius” will premiere on Feb. 1 on Nat Geo and will stream the next day on Disney+ and Hulu. Two episodes will then drop weekly thereafter on all platforms. The announcement was made by Carolyn Bernstein, Nat Geo’s executive vice president of scripted and documentary films, as part of Nat Geo’s content showcase at Hall des Lumières.
Unlike past seasons, this season of “Genius” will tell the story of two geniuses — Civil Rights Movement leaders Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. A behind-the-scenes first look at the season can be seen below.
The official description of the season states it will follow “both King and X from their formative years, where they were molded by strong fathers and traumatic injustices, to their rich, parallel stories as they shaped their identities and became the change they wished to see in the world. Influenced as children by different upbringings and experiences: King by the Jim Crow-era South and life in the church before finding his voice at Morehouse and Boston University, and X growing up under the constant, deadly violence of the Klan and falling into a life of vice and incarceration where he was introduced to the Nation of Islam and found his voice. The two visionaries ultimately rose to pioneer a movement.”
The cast of the season includes: Kelvin Harrison Jr. (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”) as King, Aaron Pierre (“The Underground Railroad”) as X, Weruche Opia (“I May Destroy You”) as Coretta Scott King, and Jayme Lawson (“The Batman”) as Betty Shabazz. The series also marks one of the last roles for Ron Cephas Jones (“This is Us”), who passed away in August 2023.
Raphael Jackson Jr. and Damione Macedon are co-showrunners and executive producers. Reggie Rock Bythewood and Gina Prince-Bythewood served as executive producers via Undisputed Cinema along with Francie Calfo. For Imagine Television, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Kristen Zolner are executive producers. For Madison Wells, Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane serve as executive producers. For EUE/Sokolow, Sam Sokolow is executive producer. Jeff Stetson (“The Meeting”) penned the pilot and is executive producer. Channing Godfrey Peoples (“Miss Juneteenth”) directed the pilot episode and also served as co-executive producer. Ambassador Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X Shabazz and Dr. Betty Shabazz, served as a consulting producer. 20th Television also produced.
A think tank of historians and experts served as production consultants prior to the start of the writer’s room to guide the production, including the following (in alphabetical order): Jamal Joseph (“Panther Baby: A Life of Rebellion and Reinvention”), Peniel E. Joseph (“The Sword and The Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.,” served as inspiration for the series), Michele Norris (“The Race Card Project”), Dr. Kameelah Rashad (Muslim Wellness Foundation), Dr. Barbara Reynolds (“Jesse Jackson: America’s David,” “No, I Won’t Shut Up: Thirty Years of Telling It Like It Is”), Jeff Stetson (“The Meeting,” served as inspiration for the series, wrote the pilot and served as an executive producer), Jeanne Theoharis (political science professor at City University of New York) and Pastor Michael A. Walrond Jr. (senior pastor of First Corinthian Baptist Church).
The first season of “Genius” starred Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein while Season 2 starred Antonio Banderas as Pablo Picasso. Season 3 starred Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin. The series as a whole has received 20 Emmy nominations, with the leads of all three seasons earning nods for best lead actor/actress in a limited series.