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Tonight, ABC premieres the new miniseries When We Rise, written and created by Dustin Lance Black.
The seven-part miniseries will chronicle the history of the LGBT rights movement, from its origins in San Francisco to present day. It will focus on the personal and political struggles of a diverse group of men and women from the LGBT community. The series is partially inspired by activist Cleve Jones’s memoir When We Rise: My Life in the Movement.
When We Rise begins Feb. 27 and airs through March 3.
Meet the 5 activists profiled in the series and the actors who play them:
Cleve Jones (Guy Pearce): An activist in the early 1970s who interned for Harvey Milk at his City Hall office until Milk was killed in 1978. Jones was one of the founders of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and later The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt in the 1980s.
Roma Guy (Mary-Louise Parker): In the 1970s she, along with her partner Diane, moved to San Francisco and joined the Women’s Movement. Together they co-founded the San Francisco Women’s Building, a community and arts center that advocates gender equality and self-determination. As a health advocate, Guy has fought tirelessly for women to have health access in San Francisco.
Diane Jones Guy (Rachel Griffiths): She joined the Women’s Movement and co-founded the Women’s Building with her partner Roma during the 1970s. She served as an HIV/AIDS nurse for 33 years until her retirement last year.
Ken Jones (Michael K. Williams): An activist who was rejected from the white-dominated gay movement because of the color of his skin. He was also alienated from the black and veteran communities because he was gay. He eventually became the first African-American chair of the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade and Celebration Committee.
Cecilia Chung (Ivory Aquino): A transgender activist who immigrated to Los Angeles with her family in the early 1980s. She spent most of her life advocating for health issues affecting the LGBT community, including HIV and AIDS programs.
Aquino, who plays Chung, is a transgender actress, but producers and casting agents didn’t know when they initially called her in for the part. It wasn’t until she came out in a note that they realized she was trans.
“I wrote them a note saying, ‘Thank you for having me. It would be an honor to be part of the project,'” she says. “And I inserted in there, ‘I just want to make sure that you know that I’m trans.'”
There are quite a lot of other stars slated to appear during the series. This list includes names like Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell, David Hyde Pierce, Denis O’Hare and Willam Belli.