Deadline reports that Nesta Cooper (See) is set to star in the feature-length drama Kemba , inspired by the life of criminal justice reform advocate Kemba Smith . Kelley Kali (I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking)) is directing for MPI Original Films and BET.
Kemba picks up with its title character (played by Cooper) as a college student, as she falls in love with a man, only to learn he is a drug kingpin who leads her down a path of abuse and manipulation, placing her in the middle of the government’s “war on drugs,” and ultimately landing her in federal prison. The film will focus on themes paramount in today’s national conversations, including institutional racism, racial inequality and the vital need for criminal justice and prison reform — having its television premiere on BET, with additional launch and distribution plans to 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. Principal photography kicks off in Atlanta next month.
Cooper recently starred opposite Owen Wilson and Salma Hayek in Mike Cahill’s Prime Video feature, Bliss . She can currently be seen starring opposite Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard in the third and final season of the Apple TV+ series See .
An alumna of Howard University and USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, Kali recently wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the feature I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking) , which was an early pick for the narrative competition at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival and went on to win Special Jury Recognition for Multi-hyphenate Storyteller, an award the fest created for her.