×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Barry Jenkins’ New Film Finds Lead in Newcomer Kiki Layne (EXCLUSIVE)

Kiki Layne will play the lead role of Tish in Barry Jenkins and Annapurna’s adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel “If Beale Street Could Talk,” sources tell Variety.

The filmmakers auditioned more than 300 women for the role and began their search in earnest earlier this summer. Layne, who auditioned in recent weeks, immediately won over Jenkins, who was blown away by her reading.

“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,” Jenkins said of the casting. “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.”

Annapurna Pictures is financing and distributing the love story, with Jenkins writing and directing. Production is expected to start in October.

The film follows Tish, a newly engaged Harlem woman who races against the clock to prove her lover’s innocence while carrying their unborn child. The movie is a celebration of love told through the story of a young couple, their families, and their lives.

“Shots Fired” star Stephan James is already set to play Tish’s finance, Fonny, in the pic.

Jenkins, who has wanted to make the film for several years, wrote the screenplay during the same summer sojourn in 2013 when he penned Oscar best picture winner “Moonlight.” Since then, Jenkins has been working with the Baldwin Estate. The movie will mark Jenkins’ first production with Annapurna and a reunion of “Moonlight’s” producing team with PASTEL and Plan B.

Jenkins had been meeting with actresses for almost two months for the pivotal part that could have the same star-making effect as “Moonlight” had on newcomer Trevante Rhodes’ career.

Layne is originally from Cincinnati and moved to Los Angeles just three months ago. She recently graduated from DePaul University.

Prior to this film, Layne’s biggest role to date was a key supporting role in the upcoming Focus features film “Captive State,” directed by Rupert Wyatt. She is repped by Mosaic, and Grossman & Jack Talent.

More Film

  • 'Shazam!' Review: Zachary Levi is Pure

    Film Review: 'Shazam!'

    In “Shazam!,” Zachary Levi brings off something so winning it’s irresistible. He plays a square-jawed, rippling-muscled man of might, with a cheesy Day-Glo lighting bolt affixed to his chest, who projects an insanely wholesome and old-fashioned idea of what a superhero can be. But he’s also playing a breathless teenage kid on the inside, and [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Showrunners, Screenwriters Back WGA in Agency Battle, Sides to Meet Again Tuesday

    More than 750 showrunners and screenwriters have backed the WGA’s battle against talent agencies taking packaging fees and other changes to the rules governing the business relationship between agents and writers. The letter of support issued Saturday is significant because of the immense clout showrunners and prominent screenwriters possess in Hollywood. Several showrunners had recently [...]

  • Doppelgänger Red (Lupita Nyong'o) and Adelaide

    Box Office: 'Us' on Track for Second-Highest Debut of 2019 With $67 Million

    Jordan Peele’s “Us” is on its way to scaring up one of the biggest debuts of 2019, with an estimated $67 million from 3,741 North American locations. Should estimates hold, “Us” will be able to claim several milestones: the highest debut for an original horror movie (the biggest launch for any horror pic goes to [...]

  • NF_D_JGN-D6-2160.cr2

    Film Review: 'The Dirt'

    A long time ago, the words sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll carried a hint of danger. The lifestyle did, too, but I’m talking about the phrase. It used to sound cool (back around the time the word “cool” sounded cool). But sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll has long since passed into the realm [...]

  • James Newton Howard Danny Elfman

    New Trend in Concert Halls: Original Music by Movie Composers — No Film Required

    Movie and TV composers are in greater demand than ever for, surprisingly, new music for the concert hall. For decades, concert commissions for film composers were few and far between. The increasing popularity of John Williams’ film music, and his visibility as conductor of the Boston Pops in the 1980s and ’90s, led to his [...]

  • Idris Elba Netflix 'Turn Up Charlie'

    Idris Elba in Talks to Join Andy Serkis in 'Mouse Guard'

    Idris Elba is in negotiations to join Andy Serkis and Thomas Brodie-Sangster in Fox’s fantasy-action movie “Mouse Guard” with “Maze Runner’s” Wes Ball directing. Fox is planning a live-action movie through performance capture technology employed in the “Planet of the Apes” films, in which Serkis starred as the ape leader Caesar. David Peterson created, wrote, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content