When Viola Davis and Denzel Washington are involved in quite literally any piece of media, we're interested. Hence why we're so excited about Giving Voice, a new documentary on Netflix. The film follows the annual August Wilson monologue competition entered by thousands of high school students for the opportunity to perform on Broadway. From the major stars who appear in the film to exactly why you should absolutely add it to your Netflix queue, here's everything you need to know about this buzzy doc.
1. What Is 'Giving Voice' About?
If you're not familiar, August Wilson (1945-2005) was an American playwright whose work often centered on the experiences and heritage of the African-American community in the 20th century. To honor Wilson's legacy—and encourage young people of color to get involved in the arts—there's an annual August Wilson monologue competition, in which high school students choose a monologue to perform from one of Wilson’s ten plays (collectively known as The American Century Cycle).
Though the ultimate prize is the chance to perform on Broadway, the competition—and Wilson himself—has a life-changing effect on the lives of the students involved, some of whom come from a background in drama and others who don’t even have a theater program at their school.
2. Who's in the Cast?
In addition to the young people participating in the monologue competition, Giving Voice features interviews with Viola Davis (who's one of the film's executive producers), Denzel Washington and Stephen McKinley Henderson, all of whom starred in the 2016 film adaptation of Wilson's play Fences.
3. Is There a Trailer?
There sure is. The trailer, which you can watch above, focuses on the impact Wilson made on the Black community not only by giving a voice to actors like Davis and Washington, but also by allowing young people of color to see performers who look like them on the stage.
4. Why Should You Watch?
Besides the commentary from mega-celebs like Davis and Washington and the inspirational story, the film has also already earned major praise. Giving Voice had its world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Festival Favorite award. Per The New York Times, where Giving Voices is a Critics Pick, "In addition to hearing themselves in the voices of these characters, the kids hear their aunts, uncles, grandparents and neighbors, too...And in capturing these moments, “Giving Voice” becomes as inspirational as Wilson’s words, as fulfilling as each teen’s declaration of self-worth."
We know what we're doing this weekend.