“…right before I submitted my tape for Beale Street, I was considering going home – and not home to Chicago but home to Cincinnati.” – Kiki Layne
Moonlight director Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk features an acclaimed cast, including the film debut of KiKi Layne in the lead role of Tish. Layne was an unknown actress before appearing in the role, and spoke to The Guardian about how she found out about the film — and just how close she was to quitting the business before landing the part of a lifetime.
Layne explains that she learned about the production from a friend who wanted her to read with him before his audition. She explains, “He asked me to be his reader as Tish for his audition tape, but when he sent me all the info I thought: ‘Why am I not auditioning for this?’” She adds that after reading the description of the character, she says, “For whatever reason, literally the first words out of my mouth were: ‘But that’s me.’”
She reveals that she had been based out of Los Angeles after moving there for an audition that didn’t pan out. She says, “It was really last-minute. I did not have the money to keep flying back and forth between Chicago and LA, so I just said to myself: ‘Girl, if you gonna go out there for that audition, you gonna stay.’ So I just packed up and left, which is definitely not the best way to move across the country.”
The frustrating outcome of that audition led to Layne briefly considering leaving the business. She admits, “So it was a lot, those first couple of months, so much so that right before I submitted my tape for Beale Street, I was considering going home – and not home to Chicago but home to Cincinnati.”
So when Layne was cast in If Beale Street Could Talk, she almost felt like she didn’t belong among the impressive cast. She says, “Every time they announced new cast members, I was just like: ‘How did I get into this movie?’”