The 'Wu-Tang: An American Saga' Cast Features Some Recognizable Faces Along With Several Newcomers
Following the success of Showtime's docuseries, Of Mics and Men, comes the Hulu show Wu-Tang: An American Saga, which is a dramatic retelling of the hip-hop group's meteoric rise to fame in 1990s New York City. The show will depict the rappers getting their start, much like the 2015 film Straight Outta Compton did with N.W.A. And while most of the Wu-Tang: American Saga cast are a bit under-the-radar, fans are sure to recognize a few faces when the Hulu show premieres on Wednesday, Sept. 4.
In addition to the cast, who look incredibly similar to the real deal, the Hulu show is being spearheaded by Wu-Tang member RZA, who created the show alongside Alex Tse. "Wu Tang is a saga. I wrote a book ... so you can read about me," RZA told USA Today. "But we don't know a lot about what Method Man was going through at a child; we don't know much about this lyrical genius ... there's an episode where we go into that world. You think about Ghostface, you think about Raekwon, [the series looks at] what makes them tick."
Here are the actors who brought the ruckus by portraying these iconic New York rappers.
Ashton Sanders — Bobby Diggs, a.k.a. RZA
Before Sanders played Wu-Tang founder RZA, he played the teenage version of Chiron in Moonlight. "RZA has trusted me to play him, and I just have to run with that — we'll collaborate until we get it right," Sanders told Another Man earlier this year. "I'm a sponge when I work with these great artists, how can I not be? Whether it's having an intimate conversation with Denzel about the art; or with [Moonlight costar] Mahershala Ali, who I developed a close bond with.... I want to tell stories and the bigger you get, the more films you do, your family grows, and the horizon expands. I just want to take a dip in everything and see what happens.”
Shameik Moore — Corey Woods, a.k.a. Raekwon
The Dope and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse star had the opportunity to flex his dramatic muscles in Wu-Tang: An American Saga. Previously, Moore appeared in the 2019, RZA-directed film Cut Throat City, which followed a heist set during Hurricane Katrina. As a result, "2017 to 2019 has been Wu-Tang for me," Moore told BET.
T.J. Atoms — Russell Jones, a.k.a. Ol' Dirty Bastard
Although T.J. Atoms has had small roles in You, Orange Is the New Black, and Blue Bloods, he's also a musician, per his IMDb. And that's an essential skill to possess when you're portraying a member of the Wu-Tang Clan. 'Ol Dirty Bastard was cousins with both RZA and GZA, per the band's website, and died of a drug overdose in Nov. 2004.
Dave East — Clifford Smith, a.k.a. Method Man
In addition to rap albums like Beloved and Paranoia: A True Story, East had a small role in the 2019 Netflix movie, Beats. "Growing up in Harlem, growing up in Queens, living in Baltimore, being locked up, going to college, playing ball, trying to sell weed, then trying to rap. I've just been through a lot in 29 years, so I got a lot to talk about," East told Rolling Stone back in 2017. "I always tell people, I never get writer's block because it's coming straight from my brain, like, real-life experiences. I'm like the news. I'm just reporting it for myself." This time around, however, East will reporting the news from Method Man's point of view.
Johnell Young — Gary E. Grice, a.k.a. GZA
Siddiq Saunderson — Dennis Coles, a.k.a. Ghostface Killah
"I feel blessed," Saunderson captioned an Instagram post depicting some Wu Tang: An American Saga advertisements. "Up on billboards on the streets that raised me, the trains I took to school and the boulevards I walk thru these days. I wanted to be bi-coastal and I truly am." In addition to his role as Ghostface Killah, Saunderson has also appeared in Lena Waithe's BET series Boomerang.
Joey Bada$$ — Jason S. Hunter, a.k.a. Inspectah Deck
Erika Alexander — Linda Diggs
Living Single fans will be happy to now that the Maxine Shaw actor will also play RZA's mom in Wu-Tang: An American Saga. According to an interview she did with the Root, Alexander only got the role after she'd been approved by RZA's siblings. It seems like they were impressed with her portrayal.
Julian Elijah Martinez — Divine Diggs
Martinez has had small parts in shows like Elementary and Madam Secretary, but it's obvious that his role playing Divine Diggs is a gamechanger for him. Divine is Robert's older brother, per the Hollywood Reporter, and where the Hulu series starts off, he's dealing drugs in order to earn money for his family.
Zolee Griggs — Shurrie
Marcus Callender — Oliver "Power" Grant
Callender has appeared in the Starz series Power, where he played Ray Ray, and has also had roles in Shades of Blue, The Night Of, and The Affair, among others. However, it's clear that playing Oliver Grant is still a huge deal, writing on Instagram, "it is a complete honor to be [portraying] one of the vital pieces of The Wu-Tang Clan."
So now that audiences know what actors are playing which characters, they're more than ready to enter the Wu-Tang on Wednesday night.