"A.D." Shines Light on Diversity


As the sequel to History Channel’s successful 2014 miniseries “The Bible,” NBC premiered “A.D. The Bible Continues” on Easter to mostly positive reviews. For one thing, it lived up to the hype and excitement of its prequel. But more importantly, viewers and critics were impressed by the diversity of the cast. Learning from criticism of its predecessor, as well as last year’s big-budget biblical epic films like “Noah” and “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” executive producers of “A.D. The Bible Continues” Roma Downey, Mark Burnett and Richard Bedser made a conscious decision to reflect the ethnic diversity of their story’s characters. Burnett, who is also executive producer of CBS’ “Survivor” and NBC’s “The Voice,” told the Associated Press, “I feel it’s so important for all communities to see themselves on the screen, but in the end our goal was to find the best and by casting that wider net we found the best actors [for the roles].”

Meet three multifarious players in the 12-part miniseries bringing a conversation about diversity to the forefront:

0701_RJWeb_Features_AD4Juan Pablo Di Pace

Character played: Jesus Roots: Di Pace is the Argentine-Italian actor playing Christ, a “very daunting and overwhelming” task for him, as he explained the role to People magazine. “He’s such an epic figure who is so close to people’s hearts.”


0701_RJWeb_Features_AD3 Chipo Chung

Character played: Mary Magdalene Roots: The Chinese-Zimbabwean actress has been vocal about the lack of opportunity for diverse actors on British television. “When you’re a mixed-race actor, you don’t really fit in,” she told The Independent. “I’m not quite black enough and I’m not quite Asian enough.”


0701_RJWeb_Features_AD2Babou Alieu Ceesay

Character played: John Roots: Ceesay is a Gambian-British actor playing one of Jesus’ closest disciples. While acting was not his first career, he has since been seen in “Eye in the Sky” with Helen Mirren and “Half of a Yellow Sun” with Chiwetel Ejiofor.


Photo credit: Joe Alblas/LightWorkers Media/NBC; Globe Photos; UPPA; ZUMAPress