‘American Soul’: BET Drama Casts Its Diana Ross, Ike & Tina Turner & More

Destiny’s Child’s Michelle Williams, Bobby Brown, Gabrielle Dennis, McKinley Freeman and K. Michelle are joining the guest star lineup in BET’s American Soul, the series based on the life and career of Soul Train creator Don Cornelius, from Jesse Collins Entertainment (The New Edition Story, The Bobby Brown Story). American Soul is set to premiere with back-to-back episodes on February 5 at 9 PM ET/PT on BET in the U.S., before rolling out globally across BET International’s linear channels in the UK, France, South Africa and South Korea, beginning February 7.

Grammy-winning singer and actress Williams will play the legendary Diana Ross. Ross is impressed by Don Cornelius, who is courting her to appear on his new show, but she hasn’t quite decided if she will accept his offer yet. Brown portrays soul singer Rufus Thomas, known for the classic soul song “Do the Funky Chicken.” Dennis, who starred as Whitney Houston in BET’s The Bobby Brown Story will play Tina Turner, who is enjoying a hugely successful career with her husband as “Ike & Tina Turner” as they perform “Proud Mary” on Soul Train. A true professional, Tina chronically suffers at the hands of Ike, played by Hit the Floor‘s Freeman, but you’d never know her pain by the love she shows onstage through her music. A high maintenance talent who makes a lot of demands on management, Ike also intends to help Don turn Soul Train into a club and franchise. He doesn’t bother to hide his behavior towards his wife. K. Michelle will portray Martha Reeves, the extraordinarily talented R&B pop singer who led the band, Martha and The Vandellas. During the band’s Soul Train appearance, Martha offers professional advice to an up-and-coming performer.

They join previously announced cast Sinqua Walls, who will play a young Don Cornelius. Series regulars also include Grammy-nominee Kelly Price, Jason Dirden, Iantha Richardson, Christopher Jefferson, Katlyn Nichol, and Jelani Winston. Kelly Rowland portrays Gladys Knight in a multi-episode arc.

Inspired by the untold rise of iconic music and dance program Soul Train, American Soul is a 70s-set drama blending fictional and real-life characters and moments.The series was announced in April as part of BET’s 2018-19 slate.

Produced by Jesse Collins Entertainment, American Soul is created by Devon Greggory and Jonathan Prince, who also will pen the pilot. Jesse Collins, Prince, Greggory and Tony Cornelius executive produce. Andrew J. Horne and Dionne Harmon are co-executive producers.

Rising to fame as a member of the globally successful girl group, Destiny’s Child, Grammy winner Michelle Williams has enjoyed a successful career as a solo music artist as well as a lauded actress. In addition to starring in sitcom Half & Half, Williams has starred in numerous Broadway and West End musical productions including Aida, The Color Purple, Chicago and Fela!. Williams is repped by Red Light Management.

Grammy-winning Brown’s career has spanned over four decades as an original member of New Edition and his own successful solo journey. Named one of Billboard Magazine’s Top 60 Male Artists of All Time this year, and recipient of the 2018 Black Music Honors R&B Soul Music Icon Award, Brown continues to tour today with newly minted group, RBRM (Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky & Mike). Brown has been the subject of two hit mini-series on BET, The New Edition Story and The Bobby Brown Story. Brown is represented by Alicia Etheredge-Brown, AE Management.

In addition to her critically-acclaimed performance in BET’s The Bobby Brown Story, Dennis has also starred in series including Marvel’s Luke Cage, Rosewood, Insecure, BET’s The Game, and Blue Mountain State. Her film credits include Black Coffee and Bring It On: Fight to the Finish. Dennis is represented by Industry Entertainment and Gersh.

Freeman most recently starred in BET’s scripted drama Hit the Floor, leading all four seasons of the series. Has also starred on the VH1 drama Daytime Divas. His other credits include Bones, Major Crimes, Switched at Birth, Scandal, If Loving You is Wrong and 9-1-1. Freeman is represented by Stone Manners Salners and Luber Roklin.

With her debut album Rebellious Soul landing the #1 spot on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, NAACP Image Award winning singer K. Michelle has since released 3 more albums under her Atlantic label. Michelle has also appeared on the hit franchise Love & Hip Hop, as well as her own eponymous series K. Michelle: My Life. K. Michelle is represented by Strong Arm Media.

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