There would be no Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X if it weren’t for the leading ladies supporting them. Period.

Nat Geo’s Genius: MLK/X explores not only the legacies of two of the world’s most prominent leaders– but also their home life, through the lens of their wives, Coretta Scott King and Dr. Betty Shabazz. The two never lived in the shadows of their husbands and were just as much of a force to the movement as they were.

“They were two of our greatest and we pull in Coretta and Betty within that statement, as well, because the four of them were so influential not only to the movement but to each other,” said executive producer Gina Prince-Bythewood. “They were people who had a vision, and then had the courage to fight for that vision. And that vision was to make life better for us, not only just here in America, but as a global mantra of human rights for everyone. That is something absolutely inspiring and what we hope with this series is that audiences can see these people who we’ve always put on pedestals and T-shirts as perfect,” she continued. “Yet, in showing their to humanity, we hope that you can see yourself in them as well.”

Weruche Opia, who portrays Coretta Scott King, says the way that the show is written is a huge nod to the many layers that both women possessed.

“Luckily for us, the way this was written shows these women in their multifacetedness,” said Opia. “It’s encouraging for us to see them as humans because a lot of times these two iconic women were put on a pedestal, just as their husbands were, as these almost perfect women who had it all together. We had the privilege to show bits of their personalities, their fears, their anxieties. It’s kind of like reaffirming everyday people, myself included, that these women were normal. They were human with complex feelings and all of these things, yet they were still able to achieve some greatness. I think other people watching it will be able to relate to the fact that these women had lives, they had all of these things going on, but they were still able to achieve so much in life.”

For Jayme Lawson, showcasing the power of Dr. Shabazz and the ways she provided a safe space for Malcolm X is not only necessary, but a great way to dive into the magic of their love for one another.

“I think it’s so easy when people want to put you as the face of a movement to be seen by everybody else around you as this powerful man,” she said of Malcolm X. “He was always seen by those around him as this powerful man and this leader and this voice for the people and she was the one person who saw him and he knew that and he recognized that there was a safe space in her.”

“That doesn’t mean that he could get away with just anything, she also challenged his ideas, but she provided a steadiness for him so that he could sustain that, so that he could last,” she continued. “Without her, I don’t believe, fully, that he would’ve been able to keep up the momentum that he was on as this leader of the movement. She made that her duty because while everybody else saw him as this great man of power, he was still her best friend. That’s the father of her children and she always made that the primary necessity.”

Genius: MLK/X drops two new episodes each Thursday in February on Nat Geo, and the episodes stream the next day on Hulu and Disney+.