KiKi Layne Is The Final Form Shifter
Think about teleporting into certainly one of your favourite film universes, and also you’ll have some thought of how KiKi Layne feels proper now. “It hasn’t fully hit me,” the 29-year-old actress says of enjoying reverse Eddie Murphy in Coming 2 America, the sequel to his 1988 comedy. Her eyes widen behind her glasses. “Like, ‘Yo, this is the sequel to Coming to America, and you are Prince Akeem’s daughter. What is this?’ ” Layne, who describes herself as a “huge fan” of the unique, discovered nice pleasure in watching Murphy at work. “It was incredible to witness the level of mastery he has over his craft,” she says. “He wasn’t super over-the-top or anything like that; it was just these little faces he would make or a one-liner he would improvise, and it would send everybody on set into laughter.” Layne, who modestly claims, “I’m no comedian,” says she was relieved to play the even-keeled stooge to Murphy’s humorous man within the movie, which premieres March 5 on Amazon Prime Video.
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Regardless of downplaying her skills, Layne undoubtedly has vary in relation to crossing genres: She’s rapidly grow to be a sizzling Hollywood commodity on the energy of her turns in Barry Jenkins’s interval drama If Beale Avenue May Speak and Gina Prince-Bythewood’s motion hit The Outdated Guard. Olivia Wilde tells me that these performances are what drew her to solid Layne in her upcoming movie Don’t Fear Darling, a psychological thriller centering on a Fifties homemaker. “I was moved by how much she can communicate nonverbally, and how boldly vulnerable she is in front of the camera,” Wilde says. “I was just so struck by her presence. What I look for above all else is fearlessness, and she clearly has that in spades.” Layne seems alongside Harry Kinds, Florence Pugh, and Gemma Chan within the interval piece, clad in era-appropriate restrictive clothes. “I mean, sometimes a girdle is just what you need—smash it all in!” Layne jokes. “But I’m glad we don’t have to do it every day.” Whereas the film’s plot is as tightly wrapped as a kind of ’50s silhouettes, Layne has one of the difficult roles within the movie, Wilde says, including, “she plays a woman embodying completely opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. I am blown away by her ability to be so vulnerable in one scene and playful in the next. KiKi is clearly a movie star.”
She’ll even be a first-time producer with the upcoming Ring Shout, a sequence based mostly on the novella by P. Djèlí Clark, which follows Maryse Boudreaux (performed by Layne) as she kinds a monster-hunting trio with two mates. “The monsters that they hunt are called Ku Kluxes, which are essentially white folk who have turned into monsters, because they’ve become so enveloped in the hatred and violence that they enact on persons of color,” Layne says. The challenge got here to her within the midst of final summer season’s protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. A good friend had shared a video of James Baldwin evaluating racists to “moral monsters.” “I was like, ‘Wow, this is what he was saying—when you are that inhumane, that immoral, you become a monster,’ ” she says. “And when you witness that type of trauma and hatred, what type of hatred does it put into you? How does that start to manifest itself and turn you into a monster as well?”
Layne appreciates that the challenge facilities Black folks in science fiction, one thing Hollywood does all too hardly ever. “I don’t know if they think that we don’t like that shit or aren’t invested,” she says. “We love it!” Layne has additionally made it a precedence to work with feminine administrators, and girls of shade particularly, like Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou, Harriet), who might be Ring Shout’s director and showrunner, and Prince-Bythewood, whose The Outdated Guard turned certainly one of Netflix’s largest hits of the summer season, drawing 78 million viewers in its first month. “People [were] surprised that this action film, directed by a Black woman, was one of the most successful Netflix films ever, but a great director is a great director,” Layne says. “And being a woman, being a person of color—if anything, it adds to the depth of creativity that this person is able to bring, a depth of perspective that has been lacking in the industry.”
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Finally, Layne needs the initiatives she produces and acts in to activate the identical feeling in her viewers that she had as a child after seeing Brandy pirouette onscreen as Cinderella. When contemplating a challenge, she asks herself, “How does it make the little Black girl in me feel?” She additionally tries to extend illustration together with her vogue decisions. As excited as she is for what’s subsequent, Layne, an ardent vogue fan (Pyer Moss and Christopher John Rogers are two of her favourite designers), is a bit of bummed about having to advertise Coming 2 America by way of Zoom. She and her stylists Wayman and Micah had been selecting items from up-and-coming Black designers for her to put on on the press tour. “This was such an iconic film for the culture, so we wanted all of my press looks to be for the culture as well,” she says. She’s hoping she’ll nonetheless have the ability to serve seems on the crimson carpet for Don’t Fear Darling, whose launch date is TBD, although she admits she could have some competitors: “Harry’s going to be the true star [there],” she jokes. Within the meantime, she’s excited to get again on set—an setting the place she clearly feels at dwelling. When a automotive drives by, blotting out our alternate with the roar of its engine, she apologizes reflexively, after which, in true movie-star vogue, playfully yells, “Holding for sound!”—VÉRONIQUE HYLAND
This story seems within the March 2021 challenge of ELLE.
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