This look at the icons of Black creativity in the US sees the actor on infectious form. But he fails to offer any insight on complex issues – leaving this documentary feeling jolly, but bland
David Harewood may be British, but on screen he feels like an old-school Hollywood star. The low timbre of his voice and his broad-shouldered physique somehow evoke the leading men of days gone by, and even without his knack for American accents it would be easy to buy him on screen alongside one of his heroes, Sidney Poitier. But that is not an accident and, as is the case for many Black Britons, Harewood has a profound connection to Black American culture, which shaped him as both a performer and a man.
Harewood’s two-part programme Get On Up: The Triumph of Black America sees him travel across the US to meet many of the icons he holds dearest. Sadly, Poitier died last year, but many others at the forefront of Black American creativity sit down with Harewood and share just what it took for them to succeed. He learns to moonwalk from Shalamar’s Jeffrey Daniel (the brains behind Michael Jackson’s signature move). He spends time with John Amos, who recalls playing Kunta Kinte in Roots with his signature velvety baritone. And he giggles with the first Black Bond Girl, Gloria Hendry, as she recalls snogging Roger Moore in Live and Let Die.