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Lena Waithe Producing Comedy ‘The 40-Year-Old Version’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Lena Waithe is producing Radha Blank’s comedy “The 40-Year-Old Version,” Variety has learned.

Blank is directing from her own script about a down-on-her-luck New York playwright who decides to reinvent herself and salvage her artistic voice the only way she knows how — by becoming a rapper at age 40. This film follow its protagonist as she vacillates between the worlds of New York’s theater and hip hop scenes, places where a black woman’s voice is still often marginalized. Production is currently underway in New York City.

“The 40-Year-Old Version” also stars Peter Kim and hip hop performer Oswin Benjamin, who makes his feature film acting debut. The film will be shot almost entirely on 35mm black and white film by cinematographer Eric Branco, who shot “Clemency,” which won the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance film Festival this year. “The 40-Year-Old Version” was selected for development at Sundance’s 2017 Screenwriters and Directors labs.

Waithe, who won an Emmy for writing on “Master of None,” created Showtime’s “The Chi” and wrote Universal’s upcoming drama “Queen & Slim.” “The 40-Year-Old Version” will also be produced by Inuka Bacote, Jennifer Semler and Jordan Fudge, who is fully financing under his New Slate Ventures banner. Rishi Rajani and Trevite Willis are set to executive produce the film.

“Radha Blank is a rare talent,” Waithe said. “She’s unlike anyone I’ve ever met — and I wanted to do everything in my power to help get this movie made.”

Blank has been a writer and producer on “She’s Got to Have It” and a writer on “Empire.”

“As a native New Yorker raised on cinema, I’ve been waiting my entire life to see someone who looks like me in the center of a classic New York film,” said Blank. “And now thanks to the amazing support of Jordan, Lena and the rest of the talented team of producers, I get to make my dream come true, adding ‘The 40-Year-Old Version,’ a love letter to my great hometown, to the canon of New York films.”

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