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Help Bring The Maya Angelou Documentary to Air Via Kickstarter

Help Bring The Maya Angelou Documentary to Air Via Kickstarter

By Concepcion De Leon

Last year, Maya Angelou passed away at the age of 86, but she left us with a great legacy from her long and rich life — as a civil rights activist, a singer, actress, and writer. Now, filmmaker Rita Coburn-Whack (Angelou's producer on Oprah radio for four years) and director Bob Hercules have created the first-ever full-length documentary on Angelou's life and times — "The Maya Angelou Documentary" — complete with interviews with the late poet conducted four months prior to her death.

The documentary — set to air on PBS in 2016 — follows Angelou's life through her childhood in the Jim Crow South, her activist work with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, her writing career and other lesser known parts of her life, including a stint in a Broadway play, and her career as a calypso dancer. It includes interviews with some of Angelou's high-profile friends — ex-President (and First Husband hopeful) Bill Clinton, rapper Common, Oprah Winfrey — and with her only son, Guy Johnson. Watching and working with Angelou, says Coburn-Whack, was like witnessing history unfold before her eyes.

But she doesn't just want to document what Angelou did; Coburn-Whack also hopes to give viewers a sense of who Angelou was. "She always saw herself in the fullness of being a woman," Coburn-Whack says. "There was something very sensuous and very forward-thinking [about her]." She says Angelou sought to live her life surrounded by beauty—long dresses, fresh flowers, a meticulously set table. The late poet was also very in tune with current culture — even getting onstage once to rap with Common during a performance in Harlem.

When Coburn-Whack approached Angelou about the project in 2012, she knew it was a big ask. "[Angelou] looked at me like, 'Do you really know what you're asking," Coburn-Whack told Glamour. "Do you know that you're asking me to go over and live my life again?" It wasn't lost on Coburn-Whack what a tremendous task she was asking Dr. Angelou to undertake. But Coburn-Whack hopes women will pick up the same lesson from Angelou that she did. “Find your voice and, once you find it, use it,” says Coburn-Whack, “I think that’s what she was saying to me, and that’s what she was saying to a nation.”

If you want to help bring this phenomenal woman's story to your TV screen next year, visit the Kickstarter campaign page.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images