Moonlight’s Barry Jenkins to helm Alvin Ailey biopic
Variety has brought word that Oscar-winning director Barry Jenkins, best known for his 2016 acclaimed coming-of-age drama Moonlight, has signed on to direct the upcoming biopic of iconic choreographer Alvin Ailey for Fox Searchlight.
First announced last March with the support of the Ailey Organization, the film will be written by Julian Breece (When They See Us) and based on both Ailey’s life and Jennifer Dunning’s biography “Alvin Ailey: A Life in Dance.” The biopic will chronicle Ailey’s life from his rural Texas upbringing by his single mother to dancing in the Horton Dance Company and in a few New York Broadway shows before starting his own group, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958, where he conceived his acclaimed work Revelations.
A decade after finding the group, Ailey went on to create the Ailey School in 1969, which is still one of the fastest-growing schools and largest in New York City that is committed strictly to teaching dance to over 3,500 students a year. Despite keeping his sexuality a secret from the majority of the public, Ailey often infused his work with respects to the LGBTQ community and earned praise from audiences for his honors. Ailey passed away in 1989 at the age of 58, having earned the Kennedy Center Honors the year before and posthumously receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014 from President Barack Obama.
The project is being produced by singer-songwriter Alicia Keys, Susan Lewis from AK Worldwide Productions, Judy Kinberg, Rachel Cohen and Jana Edelbaum from iDeal Partners, with Jenkins set to executive produce alongside Lewis and Edelbaum. The producers and Fox Searchlight will team with the dance company’s artistic director Robert Battle and artistic director emerita Judith Jamison.
Following his acclaimed work on Moonlight, Jenkins went on to direct an episode of the Netflix adaptation of the acclaimed 2014 indie dramedy Dear White People and the Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated romantic drama If Beale Street Could Talk based on James Baldwin’s novel of the same name. The 39-year-old writer/director is currently working on a miniseries adaptation of the Civil War-set novel The Underground Railroad.
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