Forest Whitaker on becoming Bumpy Johnson


DStv and Showmax caught up with Godfather of Harlem star Forest Whitaker during his recent visit to South Africa.

The character Bumpy Johnson is a far cry from the peace promoting man Forest Whitaker is, but boy oh boy, does he do the character justice. Fifty-eight-year-old Forest recently took a trip to South Africa where he delivered a masterclass in acting, promoted Godfather of Harlem and continued his outreach efforts… and we were there through it all!

The insightful masterclass comes in three parts and features in-depth discussions on Forest’s first major TV role – Godfather of Harlem – and his humanitarian efforts across the world. Radio host and TV personality Anele Mdoda interviewed Forest; read a titbit below:

Anele: Bumpy Johnson, Godfather of Harlem, he wrote poetry, did you learn how to write poetry?

Forest: I did write poetry a lot when I was working on the part though.

Anele: Oh, really?

Forest: Nothing I can quote (laughs). He was a chess player, he was a poet, he was a strategist and I was trying to understand those kinds of things about how he was like manoeuvring his people inside the community to be able to survive and also to try and understand how he was able to navigate the time itself, 1963 a big marked year for the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement.


The viewers have spoken

With an impressive 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this prequel to the 2007 film American Gangster, is undoubtedly one of 2019’s biggest TV series and viewers agree!

Google Reviews have spoken:

“Love the story line, the actors are perfect selection for each part. The cast brings this past life true events to a current reality. So real and convincing that I feel as if I'm living in it...real time. This Television series is EXCELLENT! Anxious to start Season 2.” – Cynles3

“Truly thrilling!! It has all the right components to be as big as the top 5 tv series in the last 20 years. You have:

  • The 5 Families of NY
  • Malcolm X
  • Muhammed Ali
  • Great Actors
  • Realistic action

It is a great watch and gives a real inside look into the New York that the Mafia controlled MUST WATCH!.” – Shahab Rahman

“Excellent. If you lived in the 1960's, many of the themes and names here will echo your memories. Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, Cassius Clay, Adam Clayton Powell and the whole tapestry of Harlem and mid- 1960's America is on display. The newcomer playing Malcolm X is outstanding, as is Mrs. Johnson. Five stars but for a "Romeo & Juliet" side story that takes the rest of the script off track.” – Jim Collins

Good deeds

As part of his Africa tour, Forest continued his outreach in Athlone in Cape Town with his NGO, Whitaker Peace Development Initiative, that works with youth who are affected by conflict and empower them to be peacemakers and entrepreneurs in their communities. “We finance businesses in those communities and we create learning centres where we trade in computer technologies, life skills, business skills. We are in five countries right now and we actually started to work here in South Africa in Athlone in the Cape Flats.”

Watch the final episode of Godfather of Harlem on Saturday 21 December on 1Magic (103) at 22:30 or binge-watch the entire series on Showmax

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