BET’s upcoming drama series American Soul has rounded out its series regular cast ahead of its production start next Monday in Atlanta. Jason Dirden (Greenleaf), Iantha Richardson (This is Us), Christopher Jefferson (Fifth Ward), Katlyn Nichol and Jelani Winston have been cast opposite lead Sinqua Walls in 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 described as an unflinching look at the entrepreneur, his Soul Train dancers, crew and musicians in an unforgiving Hollywood in the 1970’s – how they work, play, rise and fall against the backdrop of Soul Train — “the hippest trip in America” and one of the most predominant television shows for African American culture. The series was announced in April as part of BET’s 2018-19 slate. A premiere date has not yet been set.
Dirden plays Gerald Aims, an established gangster and club owner who hasn’t lost the hustle. Aims becomes Don Cornelius’ close associate – perhaps his only friend – introducing Don to the decadent world of LA.
Richardson is Tessa Lauren, the fearless dance coordinator for Soul Train.
Jefferson will portray Julius “JT” Tucker, a natural-born music producer who can play everything from Bootsie to Bach, and holds his own in rising music trio with Simone and Kendall. But his complicated home life may threaten his musical aspirations.
Nichol will play Simon Clarke. Enormously talented and ambitious, Simone is a wide-eyed dream-chaser who’s bound and determined to find fame in the world of music. She’s the driving force in music trio, Encore, with her brother Kendall and JT. Luckily this young star has everything it takes to make her dreams reality, but may not be ready for the heavy price of success.
Winston is Kendall Clarke – Growing up as the lone son of military man, Kendall is a teenaged dad toeing the line between being a player and the responsibilities of adulthood. A true talent, with mad dancing skills and a powerful voice, Kendall finds himself longing for success as part of music trio Encore, but growing jealous of his sister, Simone, as she gets everything he wants.
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.
Jason most recently starred as Basie Shanks in OWN’s Greenleaf. His other credits include Elementary and House of Payne. He’s repped by Abrams Artists Agency, Shelter Entertainment, and Boom Media.
Richardson began her career as a professional dancer, having appeared with artists including Fergie as well as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. Most recently, she can be seen as Adult Tess on NBC’s acclaimed drama series This Is Us and she also will be seen in a recurring role on Freeform’s The Fosters spinoff Good Trouble. Richardson is repped by MMV, Luber Roklin Entertainment and attorney Chad Christopher of Stone Genow Smelkinson Binder & Christopher.
Jefferson starred in AMC’s Fifth Ward and also appeared on Angie Tribeca, SWAT and Black-ish. He’s repped by Media Artists Group, Artist & Talent Management and attorney Chris Abramson at Felker Toczek Suddleson Abramson.
Nichol comes from a musical background, having previously been signed under Mary J. Blige’s Matriarch/Island Def Jam label at the age of 12, in addition to playing several instruments. This is her first major acting role. Nichol is repped by Mainstay Entertainment and Hertz Lichtenstein & Young.
Newcomer Winston is a is a 2017 Shuler Award recipient. He’s repped by Abrams Artists Agency.