Before her recent passing, Dr. Maya Angelou had been working with PBS’ American Master series on an extensive documentary about her life, called American Masters — Maya Angelou: The People’s Poet. Co-directors/producers Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack last interviewed Dr. Angelou this past January. Despite her recent passing, production on the film continues.
During her long and influential life Angelou published several autobiographies including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She won numerous awards including Grammys, and the National Presidential Medal of Freedom which President Obama presented her. American Masters — Maya Angelou: The People’s Poet reflects on how the events of history, mainly growing up during the South’s Jim Crow laws, culture and the arts shaped her life and how she, in turn, helped shape our own worldview through her autobiographical literature and activism especially within the civil rights movement.
Producers began work on The People’s Poet documentary nearly three years ago, after gaining Angelou’s permission. She participated in hours of interviews discussing topics like her poor childhood in Stamps, Arkansas, to writing her first book, to the death of her friend Dr. Martin Luther King.
Angelou recently also participated in a special segment of friend Oprah Winfrey’s Master Class series in 2011, in which she discussed her life and struggles and offered advice on overcoming obstacles.
The PBS documentary premieres in 2016.