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Barry Jenkins to Direct Alvin Ailey Biopic

“Moonlight” writer-director Barry Jenkins will direct a biopic about iconic choreographer Alvin Ailey.

Fox Searchlight first announced the project in March 2018, saying it had the support of the Ailey Organization. Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys is producing with Susan Lewis through her AK Worldwide production company, along with Judy Kinberg, Rachel Cohen and Jana Edelbaum from iDeal Partners. The untitled project is a co-production between AK Worldwide, iDeal Partners and Jenkins’ Pastel. Jenkins will be an executive producer alongside Jana Edelbaum and Susan Lewis.

Julian Breece is writing the script. Ailey, who was raised in rural Texas by a single mother, founded the interracial Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City in 1958 and helped popularize modern dance. His “Revelations” became one of the most-performed modern dance pieces in history.

Ailey received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1988, a year before he died at the age of 58 from AIDS-related complications. In 2014, President Barack Obama selected Ailey to be a posthumous recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The project includes the rights to Jennifer Dunning’s biography “Alvin Ailey: A Life in Dance.” Fox Searchlight and the producers will be working with the dance company’s artistic director Robert Battle and artistic director emerita Judith Jamison.

Jenkins won the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay for “Moonlight” and received an Oscar nomination for directing the coming-of-age best picture winner. He was nominated this year for best adapted screenplay for “If Beale Street Could Talk,” which he also directed.

Jenkins is repped by CAA, Silent R Management and Lichter Grossman. The news was first reported by Deadline.

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