Kiki Layne’s spirit fills up the room with light. Before you’re hit with how beautiful she is, her smile draws you in and you understand immediately why she won the coveted role of Tish in If Beale Street Could Talk. The breakout star of Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of James Baldwin’s seminal novel, Layne, and I meet in a Soho hotel where the press junket is taking place. The film is heavy on my mind as full as it is with a story that cuts too close to the bone considering the novel was published nearly half a century ago.
Barry Jenkins has assembled a cast of actors, all of whom you might not be instantly familiar with, but who you are clamouring to find out more about as soon as the credits roll. They are all phenomenal. And tucked safely amongst Hollywood firebrands Regina King, Aunjanue Ellis (Designated Survivor, The Help) and Colman Domingo (Fear The Walking Dead, Selma) is newcomer Kiki Layne. Don’t misunderstand me, Layne isn’t a freshman leaving all the heavy lifting to the seniors. Think of the level of talent required to not get lost in the shadow cast by three-time Emmy Award Winner Regina King and you’ll have 27-year-old lead actress Kiki Layne who’s only just getting started.
KL: Sorry I got my coat on. I’m looking extra boujee right now but I’m a lil chilly. (laughs)
BB: Listen, if I had a coat that looked like that then I too would be just posted up looking really cute. Welcome to London. (laughs) You were a theatre actress before you turned to screen. What is it about theatre that made you pause before you went to Hollywood?