EXCLUSIVE: Nesta Cooper (lake) has signed on to star in the feature film kembainspired by the life of criminal justice reform advocate Kemba Smith, which Kelley Kali (I’m fine, thank you for asking)) directs for MPI Original Films and BET.
kemba begins with its main character (played by Cooper) as a college student, falling in love with a man, only to discover that he is a drug lord who leads her down a path of abuse and manipulation, placing her in the middle of the “war against drugs” from the government and eventually landed her in federal prison. The film will focus on issues at the forefront of today’s national conversations, including institutional racism, racial inequality, and the vital need for criminal justice and prison reform, with its television premiere on BET, with additional release and distribution plans to follow. will be announced at a later date.
MPI’s Stacey Parks, Lana Link and Rob Pfaltzgraff will produce, with MPI’s Nick Reid, Kemba Smith and BET’s Maureen Guthman and Connie Orlando serving as executive producers. Jon Marc Sandifer and Lorisa Bates will serve as co-executive producers, with MPI’s Hannah Ruth Earl and BET’s John Baldasare serving as consulting producers. Principal photography begins in Atlanta next month.
Cooper recently starred opposite Owen Wilson and Salma Hayek in Mike Cahill’s Prime Video feature, happiness. She can currently be seen starring alongside Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard in the third and final season of the Apple TV+ series. lakewritten and produced by Steven Knight and directed by Francis Lawrence, which premiered on the platform on August 26.
A Howard University and USC School of Cinematic Arts alumna, Kali was the only woman selected to direct Belize’s first Creole drama television series, Noh Matta Wat, for which he won the Paul Robeson Award. He then worked with Ron Howard’s New Form and Brian Grazer to develop the web series. Dit Dodson’s Discovery, which competed in top-tier festivals across the country. His 2018 movie the house of the lalos it won the 45th Annual Academy Award for Students and was later considered for the 91st Academy Awards. He also recently wrote, directed, produced and starred in the film I’m fine, thank you for asking), who was one of the first chosen for the narrative competition at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival and won the Special Jury Recognition for Narrator of multiple scripts, an award that the festival created for her. Kali’s most recent feature film can be seen on BET and BET Her, as well as on Amazon, iTunes and HBO Europe, with the filmmaker currently in post-production on a new project to be announced at a later date.
MPI Original Films is a subsidiary of the production company and talent incubator, Moving Picture Institute. Their previous releases include the 2019 feature miss virginia starring Uzo Aduba and a piece of cake starring Rich Sommer, which was recently nominated for Best Narrative Short Film at the Tribeca Film Festival. Latest MPI Feature pin ballstarring Mike Faist and Crystal Reed, will have its world premiere at the Hamptons Film Festival this October.
Cooper is represented by UTA, Lauren Levitt & Associates in Canada, Industry Entertainment, and Johnson, Shapiro, Slewett & Kole; Kali de Gersh, manager Capella Fahoome and Del Shaw Moonves.