As this spirited documentary shows, the rise of poet, author, and activist Maya Angelou was anything but meteoric. As a child she survived Jim Crow racism and rape at the hands of her mother's boyfriend; as a young divorced parent she paid her bills with a calypso act. Angelou enjoyed her first major success at 41, when her first memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, made her a leading intellectual advocate for black Americans. Directors Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack stick to the American Masters format of archival footage, talking heads, and reenactments, but their seamless integration of excerpts from Angelou's many interviews makes this feel like a master class in life. With Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Alfre Woodard, and Jules Feiffer.