Greenlit: Barry Jenkins Finds His Lead for ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’

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Greenlit means a project is officially a go, so all you have to do is follow these leads to stay up to date. You never know where you’ll find an opportunity to land an audition!

Barry Jenkins searched far and wide to find the lead for his screen treatment of James Baldwin’s novel, “If Beale Street Could Talk.” After beginning auditions earlier this summer, the Oscar-winning director landed on newcomer Kiki Layne for the starring role of Tish.

The team, including casting director Cindy Tolan (“Straight Outta Compton,” “This is Where I Leave You”), saw more than 300 women for the role, but when Layne came into the room in recent weeks, Jenkins saw something different in the young actor.

The story features “Tish, a newly engaged Harlem woman who races against the clock to prove her lover’s innocence while carrying their firstborn child to term. It is a celebration of love told through the story of a young couple, their families and their lives, trying to bring about justice through love, for love, and the promise of the American dream.”

Annapurna, Pastel, and Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment are behind the film, which will begin production next month. Layne will star opposite Stephen James in the film, but no other major casting announcements have been made. Pre-production is currently underway for the film in New York City, so be on the lookout for more casting news about the film as they get ready to begin shooting in a few weeks.

Update: this project is now casting background in NYC. Apply right here on Backstage!

Check out Backstage’s New York City audition listings!

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Elyse Roth
Elyse is a senior editor at Backstage, where she oversees all casting news and features content, including her weekly casting director Q&A series, In the Room. She came to New York from Ohio by way of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism, and now lives in Brooklyn. She might see and write about awards-worthy films, but Elyse still thinks “Legally Blonde” is a perfect movie and on any given night is probably taking in some kind of entertainment, whether it’s comedy, theater, ballet, or figuring out what show to binge next.
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