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Barry Jenkins, who demonstrated a knack for identifying new talent with many of the young actors he cast in his Oscar-winning Moonlight, has discovered another newcomer, Kiki Layne, who has been tapped to star as Tish in the filmmaker’s adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel If Beale Street Could Talk.
Originally from Cincinnati, Layne, a recent graduate of DePaul University, moved to Los Angeles just three months ago and is repped by Meredith Rothman at Mosaic and Donna Simon Dunn at Grossman & Jack Talent.
As Tish, Layne will play a newly engaged Harlem woman who races against the clock to prove her lover’s innocence while carrying their firstborn child to term.
More than 300 young women reportedly were considered for the role, for which Layne auditioned.
“We saw hundreds of young women and while many were artists with gifts we admired, Kiki Layne’s ability to showcase a rich interior life ultimately won the day. I absolutely adore working with her and cannot wait to have her join us in translating Baldwin’s vision of this heroine to the screen,” Jenkins said.
Annapurna is financing and producing the adaptation alongside Jenkins and producer Adele Romanski’s production company Pastel and Plan B Entertainment. The film marks the first feature under the production pact between Pastel and Annapurna and is also part of Plan B’s production deal with Annapurna.
Jenkins has been working closely with the Baldwin Estate to write the screenplay, with production slated to begin in October.
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