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Jurnee Smollett-Bell discusses "Underground" series at Clark Atlanta University

By Erica Relaford; video by Armani Martin

Jurnee Smollett-Bell, a star of the powerful new series "Underground," joined Stephane Dunn, associate professor and director of the Cinema, Television, & Emerging Media Studies program at Morehouse College, at an advance screening event earlier this month at Clark Atlanta University.

“We’re telling a story about superheroes, hearing slave narratives from their own point of view,” Smollett-Bell said. “Truth is greater than fiction, you can’t write stuff this good. (It) really happened.”

WGN America

The event, hosted by WGN America, was held in Clark Atlanta's Henderson Multipurpose Room earlier this month.

“Underground,” premiering at 10 p.m. March 9 at 10 p.m. on WGN America, tells the story of a group of slaves who plan to escape from a Georgia plantation, risking their lives to cross many miles to freedom.

Smollett-Bell plays Rosalee, she plays a young woman who works inside as a housemaid. She describes her character as a dreamer who wonders what a life of freedom would would be like.

“Rosalee is a quiet storm who has never been more than two steps off of the plantation and no one cares to be her friend,” Smollett-Bell said. “She has a dream, but around there, dreaming can get you killed.”

She considers it a privilege to be a part of such great cast.

“I feel so proud, so passionate, so honored to be a part of a project like this. It is not only diverse, but has strong women (like) Amirah Vann who plays the heck out of 'Ernestine' and Jessica De Gouw who plays the role of Elizabeth Hawkes,” she said.

Erica Relaford is a 2015 graduate of Savannah State University, where she was on staff of The Tiger's Roar. She is a past Society of Professional Journalists-Georgia intern and occasional contributor to the AJC. Armani Martin is a video producer at the AJC.

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Jennifer Brett is a multiplatform journalist and digital coach. She writes The Buzz blog for

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