National Geographic is a channel usually not at the top of everyone’s DVR lists, but in 2024, there are four reasons it should be.
On Wednesday, October 17, in New York City, National Geographic invited the press and guests to Hall Des Lumières in the Beaux-Arts landmarked building for an intimate dinner and first look at the Disney-owned channel’s upcoming programming slate.
Following an engaging cocktail hour, guests, press, and some of the individuals involved with making the shows coming to National Geographic and 2024 made their way to the landmark bank’s main hall, converted into a dining space for the night.
National Geographic’s president, Courtney Monroe, kicking off the night, reminded guests of the channel’s commitment to tell stories to remind us that this world is still an “amazing place.”
“We are without question living in an extraordinary time. A time when factual accuracy and credibility in media have never been more essential. A time when optimism feels in short supply, “Monroe began.
“It is in times like these that I believe National Geographic’s storytelling is more vital than ever. It contextualizes the complexities we face … and it reminds us that the world is still an amazing and miraculous place, filled with beauty, awe, and wonder.”
Based on what was shown, the company, which has been around for over 135 years, will continue its incredible storytelling with a slate of powerful stories to stimulate your senses.
During the showcase, we got a glimpse of three shows we believe you should check out when they arrive on the National Geographic channel and Disney+.
The Space Race
Emmy Award-winning director Diego Hurtado de Mendoza and Lisa Cortés sit in the director’s chair for The Space Race. The series tells and weaves the stories of Black pilots, scientists, and engineers who didn’t let social injustice keep them grounded on their mission to reach the stars.
Despite how their country treated them, they proudly joined NASA to serve their country in space. The Space Race stretches from 1963, when the assassination of President John F. Kennedy stalled Captain Ed Dwight’s quest to get to the moon, to 2020, when civil unrest following the unjust killing of George Floyd was felt in the International Space Station.
In attendance at the dinner was Leland Melvin, an engineer, educator, former NASA astronaut, NFL wide receiver, and Executive Producer on The Space Race who served on missions STS-122 (2008) and STS-129 (2009), helping build the International Space Station.
Once he hung up his space suit and boots, Melvin led NASA Education and co-chaired the White House’s Federal Coordination in STEAM Education Task Force, developing the nation’s five-year STEM education plan.
After 24 years of service with NASA, he is now telling his life story in The Space Race, coming to National Geographic in 2024.
Introduced by National Geographic’s Senior Vice President of Inclusive Content and Engagement, Karen Greenfield, Queens will tell the stories of matriarchies and female leaders worldwide.
It is a story of sacrifice resilience, friendship, and love while showing that these Queens will stop at no lengths to protect their families, narrated by Angela Bassett and led by an all-female production team.
The wildest places on the planet have always been home to powerful leaders, but this a story of a new hero – fierce, smart, resilient and … female. QUEENS features matriarchies and female leaders around the world to tell a story of sacrifice and resilience but also of friendship and love. These QUEENS aren’t always kind or gentle, letting nothing come between them and the success and safety of their families. Guided by award-winning actress Angela Bassett’s powerful narration, QUEENS brings the natural world into focus through the female lens for the very first time. Four years in the making and helmed by a female-led production team from around the world – groundbreaking in the natural history space – the seven-part series leverages cutting-edge technology to reveal surprising insights into how females in the natural world rise to power, often relying on cooperation and wisdom over brute strength to get ahead. The final episode of the series celebrates the women who have gone to the ends of the Earth and dedicated their lives to documenting and protecting animal queens. We don’t call her Mother Nature for nothing. All hail … the QUEENS.
Queens premieres March 4 on National Geographic and March 5 on Disney+ and Hulu.
Bobi Wine: The People’s President
Born in the slums of Kampala, Bobi Wine, Ugandan opposition leader, former member of parliament, activist, and national superstar musician, risks his life and the lives of his wife, Barbie, and their children to fight the ruthless regime led by Yoweri Museveni. Museveni has been in power since 1986 and changed Uganda’s constitution to enable him to run for yet another five-year term.
Running in the country’s 2021 presidential elections, Bobi Wine uses his music to denounce the dictatorial regime and support his life mission to defend the oppressed and the voiceless people of Uganda. In this fight, he must also take on the country’s police and military, which are not afraid to use violence and torture in a vain attempt to intimidate and silence him and his supporters
National Geographic’s Emmy Award-winning series Genius is back.
The powerful eight-part miniseries is a product of Reggie Rock Bythewood (Swagger) and his wife, Gina Prince-Bythewood’s (The Woman King) production company, Undisputed Cinema, and “will focus on two iconic geniuses — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X — and how their dueling philosophies helped usher America through the Civil Rights Movement.”
GENIUS: MLK/X follows both King and X from their formative years, where they were molded by strong fathers and traumatic injustices, to their rich, parallel stories as they shaped their identities and became the change they wished to see in the world. Influenced as children by different upbringings and experiences: King by the Jim Crow-era South and life in the church before finding his voice at Morehouse and Boston University, and X growing up under the constant, deadly violence of the Klan and falling into a life of vice and incarceration where he was introduced to the Nation of Islam and found his voice. The two visionaries ultimately rose to pioneer a movement.
The series offers a deeper look into untapped moments in their lives as husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons, taking them off the iconic T-shirts to show their humanity. GENIUS: MLK/X brings their wives, Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz, who are often portrayed as peripheral figures, to the forefront and shows them as formidable equals of the Movement. Episodes will explore the moments between the monumental historical events we’ve come to know and shine a light on how each leader and those closest to them questioned their faith, resolve, and decisions as they navigated the rigors of balancing a public persona with a private life. While King and X met only once and often challenged each other’s views, neither would have been as successful without the other.
MLK/X Will Premiere on February 1 on National Geographic and Stream on February 2 on Disney+ and Hulu
Photos: National Geographic / Getty
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