Anna Paquin as Nancy Holt in Roots on HISTORY, DStv channel 186

Anna Paquin, who is one of the youngest actors to receive an Academy Award when she won Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1993 movie The Piano (she was 11 years old), is probably better known to South African television audiences for her part as Sookie Stackhouse in the hit TV series True Blood

Paquin's latest role is playing the part of Nancy Holt in the series Roots, currently on HISTORY (186) on Wednesday evenings at 20:30. 

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HISTORY open to DStv Compact 

Interview: Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Here the Canadian-born/New Zealand-raised actress answers some questions about her decision to get involved with the series.

Tell us a bit about your character.
I play Nancy Holt, who is the picture-perfect fiancé of a Confederate soldier and who has her own agenda when it comes to the handling of slaves. What was interesting to me about this role and the character was it opened my eyes to the power that women had during this era.

Tell us why you decided to get involved in Roots.
I was almost embarrassed that I’d actually never seen the original miniseries, nor had I ever read the book. I mean, most of the literature of that variety that I’ve read, I studied in school. For some reason, that just was a little blank spot in my education.

I really relished the opportunity to immerse myself in that period of history through that point of view, but also, as far as being not American and jumping onto a project that is so deeply personal for so many people, as intimidating as that was, my thought process was: 'If I somehow manage to miss this piece of history in this way, then I’m sure there are other people that would have missed it too.' I think it was an appropriate thing to remake, which I know has a lot of feelings around for a lot of people, but I just was very excited to get to be part of the continuing story of this piece of history that’s so important.

You have young children (twins with her True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer) so what are your thoughts about them seeing this new version and how that might inform them as they- grow up.
Unfortunately, some pieces that were made in the 1970s wouldn’t necessarily have the same visual kind of catch for a kid that was born in 2000-whatever. I look forward to them being old enough to be able to show them this, and then be able to show them the original, and for that to be a bit, possibly, like an entryway back into that original piece of work being shown to them. For younger people that might not have seen (the original) Roots, this series is very visible and I think that's a very good thing.

Did you have feel any pressure to be true to the story of Roots.
Sure. If you're going to dig something up that is a very important piece of history it's your obligation to make it as real as you know how to make it.

Be sure to tune in to HISTORY (186) on Wednesday 6 July at 20:30 for the finale of RootsIf you've missed the other episodes in the series, be sure to watch Roots on DStv Catch Up.