Playing opposite Malachi Kirby’s leading roles of Fat Charlie and Spider, Goldberg will play the role of Bird Woman, God of Birds, who exists within The World Before Time
Also announced are key cast in roles that make up the pantheon of gods from The World Before Time
LONDON and CULVER CITY, California—April 7, 2022—Amazon Studios today announced that Academy Award- and Emmy-winner Whoopi Goldberg has been cast as Bird Woman in the series adaptation of Anansi Boys, based on Neil Gaiman’s internationally beloved novel. The six-episode series stars Malachi Kirby in the leading roles of brothers Fat Charlie and Spider. Anansi Boys is set throughout contemporary London and follows an exciting cast of characters in an epic story that stretches from the UK to Florida, the Caribbean, and the mythical World Before Time. The series is currently filming in Scotland and will premiere on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide.
Anansi Boys follows Charlie Nancy (Malachi Kirby)—sometimes known as Fat Charlie (it was his father's nickname for him; he's not fat)—a young man who is used to being embarrassed by his estranged father. But when his father dies, Charlie discovers that he was Anansi: Trickster God of stories (played by Delroy Lindo). And he learns that he has a brother. Now that brother, Spider (also played by Kirby), is entering Charlie’s life, determined to make it more interesting—but making it a lot more dangerous instead.
Whoopi Goldberg will take up the mantle of Bird Woman, God of Birds and one the show’s key antagonists. She is the latest casting to be announced, along with a full pantheon of gods who make up the mythical World Before Time—a place that isn’t a place, where the animals who are gods still walk. A place of incredible beauty, magic, and danger.
Whoopi Goldberg said: “I have been a fan of this book for a very long time and when Neil Gaiman told me it was being brought to the screen, I did everything I could to be part of it to help make people aware of Anansi and all his magic.”
The cast of animal gods from the World Before Time includes:
Co-showrunner, writer, and executive producer Neil Gaiman said: “When I first conceived Anansi Boys, decades ago, I imagined Whoopi Goldberg as Bird Woman. I wasn't able to meet her until 2018, when she interviewed me with some of the Good Omens team at New York Comic Con. At which point she mentioned that she had just finished listening to Sir Lenny Henry's reading of Anansi Boys, and that it was one of her favourite books. Sometimes things feel planned and inevitable, and we are incredibly lucky. She's going to be scary.”
The World Before Time is just one of the locations being brought to life at FirstStage Studios in Leith, Scotland, with the help of a newly built LED volume stage. As well as the World Before Time, the studios are being transformed to create other key locations in the book including Brixton and Florida.
In addition to Kirby and Lindo, previously announced cast includes Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn as Rosie Noah, Grace Saif as Detective Constable Daisy Day, Jason Watkins as Grahame Coats, Fiona Shaw as Maeve Livingstone, CCH Pounder as Mrs. Higgler, L. Scott Caldwell as Mrs. Dunwiddy, Joy Richardson as Mrs. Bustamonte, and Lachele Carl as Miss Noles.
Gaiman, Henry, Douglas Mackinnon, Hanelle M. Culpepper, Hilary Bevan Jones (Endor Productions), and Richard Fee (RED Production Company) are executive producers. Gaiman and Henry write for the series along with Arvind Ethan David, Kara Smith, and Racheal Ofori. Gaiman and Mackinnon serve as co-showrunners. Culpepper (Star Trek: Picard, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey) also directs the pilot. Paul Frift serves as producer.
The show is produced by Amazon Studios, The Blank Corporation, Endor Productions, and RED Production company. With this announcement, Amazon Studios continues its relationship with Gaiman, who has an overall deal with the studio.
Credit: Timothy White
Whoopi Goldberg is one of a very elite group of artists who have won the Grammy, the Academy Award, the Golden Globe, the Emmy and a Tony. She is also a prolific producer, entrepreneur and is well-known around the world for her many humanitarian endeavors. Born and raised in New York City, she performed in San Diego and the Bay Area with the Blake Street Hawkeyes theatre troupe. It was there that she created the characters which became “The Spook Show” and evolved into her hit Broadway show, Grammy Award-winning album and the HBO special that helped launch her career.
Whoopi has recently appeared in the 2020 adaptation of Stephen King’s best-selling novel “The Stand” for Paramount+, a recurring role on Amazon’s upcoming “Harlem,” and reprises her iconic role of Guinan in season 2 of the Paramount+ series, “Star Trek: Picard.” She lends her voice to the upcoming animated features “Pierre the Pigeon-Hawk” and “Luck” and she appears in and produces the feature film, “Till,” for MGM’s Orion Pictures.
From Blockbusters to the primetime screen, Hakeem Kae-Kazim has made his impact in the world of entertainment and has worked alongside many industry greats. This talented actor gained international notoriety for his wonderful portrayal of George Rutugunda in the Oscar-nominated film HOTEL RWANDA, which led to leading roles in the TNT movie LIBRARIAN 2; opposite Noah Wyle, and THE TRIANGLE opposite Eric Stoltz and Sam Neill. Enjoying playing feisty and exciting characters, Hakeem’s list of impressive credits INCLUDE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN III, Lost, Cane with Jimmy Smits, Law & Order: SVU with Mariska Hargitay, THE LIBRARIAN with Gabrielle Anwar, X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE with Hugh Jackman, THE 4TH KIND alongside Milla Jovovich and Darfur with Billy Zane.
Hakeem is often recognized for his recurring role as Colonel Dubaku, through which he wowed audiences with his stunning performance in 24’s’ Season 7, and in the prequel movie REDEMPTION. Hakeem both produced and starred in BLACK NOVEMBER with Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger, as well as the award-winning film Man on Ground and Last Flight to Abuja. Hakeem’s recent films include HALF OF A YELLOW SUN and A CHANCE OF RAIN
His distinctive voice has also been shared in many popular video games including Halo, Call of Duty and The Bourne Conspiracy. Hakeem is well loved for his TV work, which recently has included many primetime shows including Human Target, Criminal Minds, NAVY NCIS, Law and Order, Cobert Affairs, Strike Back and Gotham. He also starred as Mr. Scott in Michael Bay’s exciting series Black Sails, which was commissioned for a third series, also starring as The Prophet, in NBC’s Dominion, and as Samson, in the exciting miniseries Roots.
In the BBC/Netflix drama Troy – Fall of a City, Hakeem starred as Zeus and voiced the role of Krogan on the Disney Channel’s hit series How to Train Your Dragon. Hakeem's recent films include 24 HOURS TO LIVE and the drama SERENITY, starring Mathew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. He also appeared in the US drama Forty North and joined the remake of the classic TV series Dynasty starring as the Colby Patriarch, along with Zimbabwean revolutionary Robert Mugabe in Tyrant and Danba in the TV series Deep State II.
Hakeem recently came out in the highly anticipated feature KING KONG V GODZILLA playing Admiral Wilcox, along with just finishing season one of the series Dangerous Liaisons for Starz
Emmanuel Ighodaro’s previous theatre credits include: Barbershop Chronicles (National Theatre/Fuel), Zara (George Costigan), God in Ruins (Royal Shakespeare Company), Macbeth (Royal Shakespeare Company), Company of Angels (Arcola Theatre) Blue Orange (The Abbey Theatre Dublin), Who Killed Mr Drum (Treatment Theatre), Duchess of Malfi (New Vic. Theatre).
Emmanuel has had roles in television and film including: The Queen and I (Sky), Sick of It (Sky), Krypton (Warner Horizon), Shameless (Company Pictures), Torchwood (BBC Television), DCI Banks (Left Bank Pictures),The Revelation (GreyRock Pictures), Habit (Not a Number Productions), The Walk (Long Day Films), Sahara (Paramount Pictures), Unseen (Artwork Media) New Tricks (BBC), Waterloo Road (Shed Media Productions), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (BBC Shakespeare), Outlaws (World Productions), Waking the Dead (BBC) and Baby Father 2 (BBC).
Cecila previously starrd in a number of television including Small Axe, Semi-Detached, Black Mirror, Call the Midwife, Undercover, Nurse, Our Girl, Coming Up, Doctors, Waking the Dead, EastEnders, Silent Witness, The Bill, Holby City, Resnick, Casualty, Killing Eve, Teacher.
Her theatre roles include The Welkin, Faith, Hope & Charity, Nine Night, (& West End), The Amen Corner, The Recruiting Officer, Henry V, His Dark Materials (National); The Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night, The Tempest (RSC); The Vagina Monologues (Arts); Yellowman (Hampstead); In The Red & Brown Water, A Raisin in the Sun (Young Vic).
Cecila has had roles in films such as THE LADY IN THE VAN, DANNY & THE HUMAN ZOO, KALEIDOSCOPE, OF MARY [SHORT], NEW YEAR’S DAY, MRS CALDICOTT’S CABBAGE WAR and STORM DAMAGE.
The most recent projects in Don’s television career include: Sherwood (House Productions), Get Even 2 (CBBC), The Stranger (Fox21) Shakespeare and Hathaway (BBC), The Stranger (Red Productions), Scarborough (BBC), Death on the Tyne (Shiny Button), Midsomer Murders (ITV), The Loch (ITV), Brief Encounters (ITV), Death In Paradise (BBC), Holby City (BBC), Old Jack’s Boat (BBC), Love & Marriage (ITV), Father Brown (BBC), Wizards vs Aliens (BBC), One Night (BBC), Rollin’ With The Roberts (Hartswood Films), EastEnders (BBC), Hotel Babylon (Carnival Pictures), Cape Wrath (Channel 4), Dr Who (BBC), Ruby in the Smoke (BBC), The Line of Beauty (BBC), 55 Degrees North (BBC1), Baby Father (BBC).
His extensive theatre credits include: The Epic Adventure of Nhamo the Manyika Warrior and his Sexy Wife (Tricycle Theatre), Bouncers (UK Tour), Fences (Frankfurt English Speaking Theatre), The Alechemist (Lyric Theatre Hammersmith), Truth and Reconciliation (Royal Court), Fabulation (Tricycle Theatre), Bone (Royal Court), Come Out Eli (Arcola Theatre).
Don's film credits include: DECRYPTED (Substantial Films), HOME RUN (Magpie Films), THE CORRUPTED (Eclipse Films), THE WONDERLAND EXPERIENCE (Urban Eye Films).
Previous radio projects include: Exemplar, Faith Hope & Glory, The Miser, Sound at the End, Temporal, The System, Talawa Stories: NSA, Fault Lines S1, The Likes of Us, Moon On Water, What Does the ‘K’ Stand For, Small Island, Neverwhere, Dracula, The Third Eye and the Private Eye.
Ayanna Witter-Johnson is a multi-talented singer, songwriter, pianist and cellist. She has a phenomenal mastery for seamlessly crossing the boundaries of classical, jazz, reggae, soul and R&B, to imprint her unique musical signature with her virtuosic tap, strum and bow with her cello into her sound and vibe. An acclaimed and celebrated performer, Ayanna has collaborated with many stellar artists, including Anoushka Shankar, Nitin Sawhney, Andrea Bocelli and Jools Holland. She has also toured extensively across the UK, Europe and the US. After graduating with a first-class degree from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and the Manhattan School of Music, Ayanna participated in the London Symphony Orchestra's Panufnik Young Composers Scheme. Soon after, as Emerging Artist in Residence at London's Southbank Centre, Ayanna performed as a featured artist with Courtney Pine's Afropeans: Jazz Warriors. Later, whilst studying in the USA at New York's Manhattan School of Music, she became the only non-American to win 'Amateur Night Live at the legendary Apollo Theatre in Harlem, NYC. As a composer, Ayanna has been commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, Güerzenich Orchester, Ligeti Quartet, Kronos Quartet and The Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company to name but a few. She was also selected as an arranger/orchestrator for the London Symphony Orchestra (Hugh Masekela, Belief) and the BBC Symphony Orchestra (Urban Classic). Ayanna has released three EPs ('Truthfully', 'Black Panther' & 'Ella, Reuben & Ay') and put out her debut album 'Road Runner' in 2019, with its two subsequent singles' Nothing Less' and 'Crossroads', via her own independent record label (Hill and Gully Records). Ayanna has worked with producers Marc Mac (4Hero), James Yarde (Terri Walker, Jamelia, Eric Benet) and recorded with featured artists, including pianist Robert Mitchell and rapper Akala. With her January 2021 surprise-released EP 'Rise Up, Ayanna again combined reggae, classical, jazz and R&B to celebrate black culture and identity to uplift and inspire the next generation. The stunning collection of three tracks and videos featuring Akala on 'Rise Up', Cleveland Watkiss on 'Declaration Of Rights' and the 'Rise Up Riddim' have received a huge amount of critical acclaim. Many of Ayanna's remarkable tracks have received airplay on radio stations, including BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra, 2, 3, 4, 6, BBC Radio London, BBC Manchester, Jazz FM and Scala Radio. Her TV credits include BBC One, London Live, Channel 4 (Sing It Loud: Black and Proud), BBC Proms and a stunning performance on Later…with Jools Holland (BBC One). Despite the challenges of 2020, Ayanna took it all in her stride and continued to create music. She performed a special Livestream for Royal Albert Hall, took part in Trinity Laban's Virtual Orchestra and picked up an AIM Award nomination for 'Best Live Act'. In addition, she presented two shows at Wigmore Hall, appeared on BBC Radio 3's 'This Classical Life' podcast, co-wrote and featured on Anoushka Shankar's Grammy single 'Those Words' from the Grammy-nominated Love Letters EP. Ayanna also collaborated with and featured on Nitin Sawhney's stunning single 'Movement Variation II' taken from his acclaimed recent album 'Immigrants'. 2021 was a stellar year for Ayanna. Collaborating with Solem Quartet as part of their Beethoven Bartok Now series, she has also had her song 'Draw the Line', commissioned by The Hermes Experiment, and featured on their sophomore album 'Songs'. Ayanna also featured on the track called 'Flow My Tears' with John Aram, the arranger for Phil Collins. The song is a slick, modern-day reimagining of English composer John Dowland's 400-year-old music. That year saw Ayanna return to the live stage, headlining at London's iconic Jazz Café and Kings Place. She made additional performances supporting Nubiyan Twist on their UK tour, participating in 'Jazz Voice' (the opening of the London Jazz Festival) at the Royal Festival Hall and a 22-date US tour with Opera superstar Andrea Bocelli. 2022 sees Ayanna working on several commissions for ensembles and orchestras, including a Royal Philharmonic Society Commission for the Philharmonia Ensemble; Ayanna is also adding commissions for film, a feature-length documentary and TV programmes alongside preparing for her sophomore album. More recently, her talent has seen her compose for the sold out, hit theatre production ‘The Collaboration’, at London’s Young Vic Theatre, and compose for the renowned documentary 'Hostile'. As a performer of extraordinary versatility, Ayanna's live shows are intimate journeys that chronicle her experience as a female artist in the 21st century. Due to her musical prowess, mesmerising vocals, non-compromising lyrics, and ability to deftly reinterpret songs on the cello.