Yesterday, Fox Searchlight Pictures announced that principal photography for the timeless holiday musical drama BLACK NATIVITY began in New York. The film boasts an all star cast featuring Academy Award® winner Forest Whitaker (THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND), Academy Award® nominee Angela Bassett (WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT), and Academy Award® and Grammy® winner Jennifer Hudson (DREAMGIRLS), along with actor and Grammy® nominee Tyrese Gibson (FAST FIVE), and RCA recording artist Jacob Latimore. Additional cast includes Grammy® winner Mary J. Blige, Grammy® nominee Nas and friend to Heed Magazine and Grammy® nominee Luke James.
Kasi Lemmons (EVE’S BAYOU, TALK TO ME) directs from a screenplay she wrote based on the celebrated play of the same title written by American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist Langston Hughes. The music for BLACK NATIVITY will feature original lyrics and arrangements from Grammy® winning singer, songwriter and record producer Raphael Saadiq.
“‘Black Nativity’ has a been a part of my life for many years and I am so excited to be teaming up with Fox Searchlight to bring this unifying and transformative experience to the movies,” said writer/director Kasi Lemmons. “This is a universal story of faith and family, a marker of our times, and an endearing Christmas tale, infused with music from hip-hop to R&B to gospel.”
‘Black Nativity’ debuted off-Broadway at the 41st Street Theatre on December 11th, 1961. Penned by Langston Hughes, the celebrated poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist who was a central figure during the Harlem Renaissance, ‘Black Nativity’ opened to rave reviews. It has been in continuous production across the nation with theatre companies, churches, college campuses and more for over 50 years.
In this contemporary adaptation of the celebrated play, BLACK NATIVITY follows Langston (JACOB LATIMORE), a street-wise teen from Baltimore raised by a single mother, as he journeys to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged relatives Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs (FOREST WHITAKER and ANGELA BASSETT). Unwilling to live by the imposing Reverend Cobbs’ rules, a frustrated Langston is determined to return home to his mother, Naima (JENNIFER HUDSON). Langston embarks on a surprising and inspirational journey and along with new friends, and a little divine intervention, he discovers the true meaning of faith, healing, and family.
Kasi Lemmons has written and directed three feature films including her award-winning directorial debut EVE’S BAYOU, for which she received the Independent Spirit Award for “Best First Feature” and the National Board of Review’s “Outstanding Directorial Debut Award.” Lemmons’ other films include THE CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE, and TALK TO ME, for which she received an NAACP Image Award© for “Outstanding Direction.” Prior to directing, Lemmons began her career as an actress appearing in films such as THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, THE FIVE HEARTBEATS, and SCHOOL DAZE.