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

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.”

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

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