Aunjanue Ellis to Star in Ava DuVernay’s ‘Caste’ Film Adaptation

Academy Award-nominee Aunjanue Ellis has signed on to star in Ava DuVernay’s feature adaptation of “Caste.” The duo reunites following their Emmy-nominated collaboration, Netflix’s “When They See Us.”

Filming is underway on the project, which is inspired by Pulitzer Prize-winner Isabel Wilkerson’s bestseller “Caste: Origins of Our Discontent.” Described in The New York Times as “an instant American classic and almost certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the American century thus far,” the book — and subsequently DuVernay’s film — examines the system of hierarchy that has shaped America.

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Written and directed by DuVernay, she is also producing alongside frequent collaborator ARRAY Filmworks’ Paul Garnes (“Selma,” “Middle of Nowhere”). Announced in October 2020 and set at Netflix, the independent film is financed by J4A. Production began in Georgia in December, with additional filming set to take place in Germany and India.

News that Ellis will take on the lead role comes following the actor’s 2022 Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress for “King Richard,” in which she portrayed Venus and Serena Williams’ mother, Oracene Price.

Ellis recently wrapped the Warner Bros. musical feature “The Color Purple,” Fox Searchlight’s “The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat” and Orion’s “The Nickel Boys.” On television, the Emmy-nominee starred in HBO’s “Lovecraft Country” and AMC’s “61st Street” and is set to appear in FX’s revival of “Justified.”

DuVernay is repped by Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein Lezcano Bobb & Dang and CAA, which will handle sales for the film. Ellis is repped by UTA and TMT Entertainment Group.

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