It’s been less than two years but people have been highly anticipating the follow-up to Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-winning Moonlight, which won Best Picture, Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali and Adapted Screenplay (for Jenkins and short story creator Tarell Alvin McCraney) at the 89th Academy Awards. He came to Essence Fest in New Orleans to share a first look at that follow-up, an adaptation of James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk.
If Beale Street Could Talk tells the story of Fonny and Tish in 1970s Harlem. When Fonny is accused of rape, Tish desperately scrambles to prove him innocent of the crime while carrying their first child. The film stars Stephan James (Shots Fired) as Fonny, KiKi Layne (Chicago Med) as Tish and two-time Emmy winner Regina King (American Crime) as Tish’s mother, Sharon. It’s set for release by Annapurna Pictures this November.
The quartet then sat for a Q&A with Essence entertainment director Cori Murray to talk about the casting process, not shying away from Baldwin’s fiery language and how a story taking place in 1974 is current for today.