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In 'Beale Street,' a radiant portrait of young black love

In this Nov. 30, 2018 photo, actor Stephan James poses for a portrait in New York to promote his film "If Beale street Could Talk."(Photo by Amy Sussman/Invision/AP)

NEW YORK — In “If Beale Street Could Talk ,” filmmaker Barry Jenkins sought to capture an experience of young black love that has seldom been seen on screen.

In bringing James Baldwin’s novel to screen, little was more important than finding the book’s central lovers: Clementine “Tish” Rivers and Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt.

Jenkins cast Fonny first, handing the role to Stephan James, the Toronto-born, up-and-coming 24-year-old who played Jesse Owens in “Race” and John Lewis in “Selma.” KiKi Layne, a 26-year-old theatre actress who hadn’t before acted in a film, landed Tish after Jenkins flew her to New York for a chemistry read with James.

“If Beale Street Could Talk” opens in limited release Friday.

Jake Coyle, The Associated Press



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