The upcoming debut of the Roots remake includes a stellar cast, and one of those cast members happens to be actor and rapper T.I. 

But signing on to join newcomer Malachi Kirby, Laurence Fishburne, Forrest Whitaker, Anika Noni Rose, Erica Tazel and a host of other talented actors, wasn’t an easy decision for him. The 35-year-old told The Huffington Post, he needed some extra convincing to help retell the powerful story of Alex Haley’s 1977 original production. 

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“This was an opportunity that he presented to me, and of course initially he got a little bit of push back from me,” he said. “I will admit that I was one of the ones to say, ‘Man, I don’t know if that needs to be remade.’ It was just a huge undertaking for him as a producer and for me as an actor to sign up to remake such a classic and to tell a story that has so much pain and just so much turmoil involved in it.”

T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris, will play Cyrus, a headstrong slave who is member of the Union Army fighting against the Confederate South. 

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Harris said he ultimately decided to join the project because he knows what it is like to be “someone who would do anything for freedom.”

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“I do know what it’s like to have your freedom be taken from you or to not have it be available to you,” he added. “I kind of amplified my thoughts and how I felt when my freedom was separate and apart from me. So I kind of took that and pushed upon it, because Cyrus is actually thee most rebellious and non-subservient character that there is. You never see Cyrus in Roots as a slave, he’s always a runaway slave – running, dodging bullets and doing whatever it takes to maintain his freedom. So it wasn’t as slave written as the rest of the characters, but I think all of the characters collectively to the story are important.”

The eight hour-four night series Roots premieres on The History Channel on Monday, May 30 at 9 p.m.

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