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Aunjanue Ellis, who earlier this year was nominated for an Oscar for her work in King Richard, has lined up the leading role in filmmaker Ava DuVernay’s next feature.
Ellis will star in a film inspired by Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson’s 2020 nonfiction book that examines the system of hierarchy that shaped America. The book earned wide acclaim, and was part of Oprah’s Book Club.
DuVernay wrote the screenplay and is directing the indie project, which began filming in December in Georgia, and will move on to shoot in Germany and India. DuVernay produces alongside Array’s Paul Garnes. J4A, a private equity fund dedicated to social justice projects, is financing.
Ellis is among the stars of the upcoming musical The Color Purple for Warner Bros., and has also wrapped on Fox Searchlight’s The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat and Orion’s The Nickel Boys.
The actor earned Emmy nominations for HBO’s Lovecraft Country, in which she played the widowed mother Hippolyta, as well as for her first collaboration with DuVernay, the Netflix series When They See Us, in which she played Sharonne Salaam, the mother of Yusef Salaam, one of the wrongly convicted youth known as the Central Park Five.
DuVernay, who in recent years has been busy in the world of television on projects such as Queen Sugar, directed features including A Wrinkle in Time (2018), the best picture-nominated Selma (2014) and Netflix documentary The 13th (2016).
DuVernay is repped by Del Shaw and CAA, which will handle sales. Ellis is repped by UTA and TMT Entertainment Group.
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