Our prayers have finally been answered. 

Two-time Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali will be making his way back on our screens (and into our hearts) with his upcoming portrayal of legendary boxer Jack Johnson. Unruly is a six-part limited series for HBO, based on Ken Burns’s PBS documentary Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson and Geoffrey C. Ward’s companion book.

“This bold exploration depicts the champion’s rise to athletic greatness and the costs he paid for his skin and defiance, which created a blueprint for Black resistance in every justice movement for generations to come,” an official synopsis reads.

Ali has already portrayed Johnson in the play The Great White Hope, so Ali’s no stranger to the late boxer’s story.

In a 2017 interview, Ali said that Johnson was one of the historical figures he’d relish emulating on the silver screen—and now those dreams are finally coming true.

Calling him “a tragic figure,” Ali added, “Marvin Gaye and Jack Johnson are my dream roles, but I really just want the opportunity to go on the hero’s journey. I’ve never done that.”

Ali will serve as executive producer alongside Tom Hanks, Beau Willimon (House of Cards) and Dominique Morisseau (Shameless) in Unruly.

For those that need brushing up on Black history, Johnson was the first Black world heavyweight champion in boxing history when he defeated Tommy Burns in December 1908. 


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