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THE EXPRESS WAY WITH DULÉ HILL (New Series Premiere)

Dulé and Shaheem at the dance studio.
Larkin Donley / Joe Bressler; CALICO
/
PBS
Dulé and Shaheem at the dance studio.

Premieres Tuesdays, April 23 - May 14, 2024 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV / PBS App

In a new four-part series, multi-talented actor and performer Dulé Hill (THE WONDER YEARS, THE WEST WING) and director Danny Lee (“Who Is Stan Smith?”) take audiences on an emotional and celebratory road trip across the nation to explore the transformative power of the arts. Along his journey, Hill travels to California, the Appalachian region, Texas and Chicago to connect with local visionaries, activists, changemakers and pioneers who are using their artistic passions to foster connection, deepen empathy, and create meaningful change within their communities. THE EXPRESS WAY WITH DULÉ HILL premieres Tuesdays, April 23-May 14, 2024 at 9 p.m.

THE EXPRESS WAY WITH DULÉ HILL: Official Trailer

What would it be like to create art without sight? How does one explore dance through music that cannot be heard? And how can creative expression be used to break down barriers, combat hate and create safe spaces for everyone? As Hill crisscrosses the country, he explores these questions and more, meeting with a wide array of creatives who are challenging traditional narratives, reclaiming space for themselves and their communities and paving a pathway forward for others to follow.

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“The power of the human spirit is really an inspiring thing. There are many people in this world who create space out of nothing. They are the ones turning on the light, setting the path, and then guiding others along the journey,” said Hill. “As a lifelong dancer, actor and singer, the arts are what drive me. There's something about when you see yourself reflected that allows you to believe that you exist.”

Dulé dances with members of the Infinite Flow Dance Group.
Larkin Donley / Joe Bressler; CALICO
/
PBS
Dulé dances with members of the Infinite Flow Dance Group.

EPISODE GUIDE:

Episode 1: “California” Premieres Tuesday, April 23 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV - In the Golden State, actor Dulé Hill connects with people who are using art to rewrite their narrative, and the narrative of their communities. As a dancer himself, Dulé never considered that it would be possible for someone to move to a beat that they could not hear. That is, until he meets deaf dancer, Shaheem Sanchez, who is showing the world that the “deaf can dance.”

Shaheem Sanchez dancing at a kickback party.
Larkin Donley / Joe Bressler; CALICO
/
PBS
Shaheem Sanchez dancing at a kickback party.

In San Francisco, Dulé meets a different set of artistic pioneers: the Grant Avenue Follies, a cabaret troupe made up of sassy senior citizens. Led by Cynthia Yee, the Follies’ are also activists, keeping alive Chinatown’s rich history, and using their newfound rap skills to combat anti-Asian hate.

Clara Hsu, member of the Grant Avenue Follies, poses with her fan.
Larkin Donley / Joe Bressler; CALICO
/
PBS
Clara Hsu, member of the Grant Avenue Follies, poses with her fan.

Finally in Los Angeles, Dulé gets his groove on after meeting Carlos Sameniego, the founder of the world's first LGBTQ+ mariachi group, Mariachi Arcoiris, along with his friend Natalia, Mariachi’s only trans woman.

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The Mariachi Deacoris perform one of their songs.
Larkin Donley / Joe Bressler; CALICO
/
PBS
The Mariachi Deacoris perform one of their songs.

Episode 2: “Appalachia” Premieres Tuesday, April 30 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV - The Appalachian region has some of the highest poverty and addiction rates in the nation and in this episode Dulé connect with artists who are improving life for themselves and their communities through music. First Dulé speaks to Doug Naselroad, who is the founder and director of Troublesome Creek Stringed Instrument Company and co-founder of The Culture of Recovery — a program that assists individuals on the road to recovery from opioid addiction by teaching them to make stringed instruments.

Doug Naselroad poses with one of this handmade Dulciers.
Larkin Donley / Joe Bressler; CALICO
/
PBS
Doug Naselroad poses with one of this handmade Dulciers.

In Johnson City, Tennessee, Dulé learns about the black community’s contributions to traditional American music from Amythyst Kiah, a queer, black, bluegrass musician whose dedication and talents have earned her a Grammy nomination.

Amethyst Kiah
Todd Roeth
/
PBS
Amethyst Kiah

Finally, in Durham, North Carolina, Dulé meets Grammy-nominated artist Joe Troop, the creator of “Latingrass,” a fusion of Latin and American folk music played with traditional bluegrass instrumentation.

Joe Troop poses with his banjo.
Larkin Donley / Joe Bressler; CALICO
/
PBS
Joe Troop poses with his banjo.

Joe is taking this music to a whole new level by teaming up with Venezuelan musician and asylum-seeking migrant, Larry Bellorin, on a new musical odyssey while standing up against xenophobia and racism.

Larry Belloris poses along with his harp.
Larkin Donley / Joe Bressler; CALICO
/
PBS
Larry Belloris poses along with his harp.

Episode 3: “Texas” Premieres Tuesday, May 7 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV - In Texas, Dulé connects with three artists, each a leader in transforming their communities. In Houston, Dulé learns the “Mexica” handshake from Abuela M'api Rainflowa, the founder of Houston Aztec Dance & Drum. Rainflowa, who grew up as a devout Catholic believing that she was of Mexican decent, learned in college that she was actually indigenous. Rainflowa teaches Dulé the Aztec Sun Dance, and he later joins her for a sweat lodge ceremony, exploring the spiritual roots of indigenous practices.

Rain Flowa (second from left) stands alongside her family in traditional garb.
Larkin Donley / Joe Bressler; CALICO
/
PBS
Rain Flowa (second from left) stands alongside her family in traditional garb.

In Dallas, Dulé meets David Lozano, Executive Director of Cara Mía Theatre. Cara Mía uses daring theatrical productions to amplify the Latino experience in the United States including one-woman play featuring Liz Magallanes, an undocumented immigrant, about her experience as a “dreamer.”

Liz performs a scene from her play.
Larkin Donley / Joe Bressler; CALICO
/
PBS
Liz performs a scene from her play.

And in Denton, Dulé connects with John Bramblitt, a blind painter who lost his vision in 2001 and, as a result, re-taught himself to paint by touch. He currently leads workshops at museums like the Guggenheim, helping others with blindness reclaim their artistic abilities.

John Bramblitt poses with his paint and pallet.
Larkin Donley / Joe Bressler; CALICO
/
PBS
John Bramblitt poses with his paint and pallet.

Episode 4: “Chicago” Premieres Tuesday, May 14 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV - Chicago is a city known for its rich history and culture, but for some, it’s been marred by crime and violence. In this episode, Dulé meets several of the city’s talented artists to explore why art and activism are often synonymous in the Midwest.

On the South Side of Chicago, Dulé joins a casting session with the Andre Theatre Collective, a group trying to produce their first play written by incarcerated playwrights. The play examines why much of the city has been riddled by crime, especially for those living in Black communities.

Dulé also meets with Vershawn Sanders Ward, founding Artistic Director and CEO of Red Clay Dance, who is creating a space for people of color to be seen and highlighting issues affecting her community, like food inequality, through African Diasporic dance. Dulé also takes the stage with Bassel Almadani, a first-generation, Syrian-American musician who is using his platform to bring awareness to the civil war ravaging his family’s beloved homeland, and the resulting refugee crisis.

Dulé Hill
Riker Brothers
/
PBS
Dulé Hill

Filmmaker Quote:

“For me as a filmmaker of color, art has not only been a way to be seen, but a deeply transformative force in my life,” said Lee. “As a pillar of American culture, PBS has always impressed upon me the importance of the arts. So to be able to craft a moving series that shines light on the power of creative expression, alongside such a phenomenal talent like Dulé Hill and my team at CALICO, is a dream come true.”

Executive producer and director Danny Lee
Impact 24 PR
/
PBS
Executive producer and director Danny Lee

Watch On Your Schedule: THE EXPRESS WAY WITH DULÉ HILL will be available to stream on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS App, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO.

Credits: Produced by CALICO for PBS. Danny Lee is the director and executive producer. Sophia Kruz is co-executive producer. Jazmyn Simon and Dulé Hill are executive producers, producing under their production company Simon Says Hill. Christopher Howard and Josh Jacobs are also executive producers. Margaret Ebrahim is the executive in charge for PBS.