KiKi Layne

Midwestern actress KiKi Layne burst onto the acting scene with her powerful turn as a pregnant woman fighting for the rights of her baby's father in Barry Jenkins' "If Beale Street Could Talk" (2018). Born Kiandra Layne in 1992 and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Layne became interested in acting as an elementary school student, which prompted her to study acting and music at the School for Creative and Performing Arts. She continued her studies at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, and immersed herself in the city's prestigious theater scene. After landing a handful of television roles, including a guest turn on "Chicago Med" (CBS, 2015- ), Layne headed west to Los Angeles in 2017 to try her hand in Hollywood. Her rise to prominence took relatively little time: a friend who was auditioning for the male lead in "Beale Street" - director Barry Jenkins' follow-up to the Oscar-winning "Moonlight" (2016) -asked Layne to read for the role of Tish, a young pregnant woman who fights for the release of her friend and lover (played by Stephan James), on his audition tape. Feeling inspired by the role, Layne submitted her own audition tape and within two weeks' time, was hired to play Tish in the feature film. She then reunited with Jenkins for an adaptation of Richard Wright's "Native Son" (2019), among other feature film projects.