Taraji P. Henson To Narrate Nikki Giovanni’s Documentary 'Going to Mars'

Taraji P. Henson To Narrate Nikki Giovanni’s Documentary 'Going to Mars'

01/22/2024 06:14 PM EST

After being the focal point for much of the The Color Purple press tour, Taraji P. Henson can focus her attention on a new project, Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project

Going to Mars, tells the story of one of America’s greatest living artists and social commentators, Nikki Giovanni. The film, which took seven years to film, demonstrates Giovanni’s journey including her activism, incisive commentary on institutionalized racism, and the substance of her works of poetry.

The film is narrated and executive produced by Howard University alum, Taraji P Henson. Per Deadline, Henson reads  poetry from the renowned writer and educator that takes viewers on a visual journey of Giovanni’s career dating back to her emergence in the 1960s.

For the voiceover on the film, “We had to find a happy medium,” Henson tells Deadline. “When you take on Nikki’s poems – and because [the film] is about her, it needed to sound like her. It needed to feel like her. When she reads her words, it’s almost conversational. Because for her, it’s a matter of fact. It is what it is. There is no performance to it.” 

In the title poem, Giovanni envisions a human expedition to Mars and advocates for NASA to seek counsel from Black Americans, whose ancestors faced the challenges of the Middle Passage.

Having studied at two HBCUs, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and Howard University, Henson shared with Deadline Giovanni played a pivotal role in her interests in black women studies..

“We had Black studies, we studied Black music, poets. You gotta know we talked about Nikki Giovanni,” she says. “We watched those intellectual conversations that she had with James Baldwin. That’s where I started to learn to question things and ideologies about Black women. I found myself as a black woman in Howard University and Nikki Giovanni has a lot to do with that.”

“I’m really most proud of this documentary because of what Nikki Giovanni means to culture and how she has affected my life in the most incredible way,” Henson says. “She means so much to me and the Black woman that I’ve become and how I’ve been able to hold my head up high in the industry that may not be so nice sometimes. It would be a great honor for her to get this. It has nothing to do with me. I just want to help more people — if you don’t know about Nikki Giovanni, I want her on a big stage. The world should know about her.”

Watch on YouTube

Watch the trailer below:

Watch on YouTube