There has been much anticipation for writer-director Barry Jenkins' next film ever since "Moonlight" captivated audiences last year and won three Oscars, including Best Picture, at the 89th Academy Awards. Jenkins' next big-screen endeavor is an adaptation of the James Baldwin novel "If Beale Street Could Talk," originally published in 1974. Given the exceptional acting in "Moonlight," headlined by Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali and Oscar-nominee Naomie Harris, many were curious as to who would play the key roles in "If Beale Street Could Talk." On Wednesday, it was revealed that Kiki Layne would play the main character.

Who is Kiki Layne?

Kiki Layne's name won't ring a bell with the average moviegoer—in fact, it probably won't even ring a bell with the most avid of cinephiles.

A Cincinnati native, Layne moved to Los Angeles just three months ago, according to Variety, and is a recent DePaul University graduate. Her only acting credits are for a short called "Veracity," one episode of "Chicago Med," and "CBS Drama Casting Initiative 12." She also has "a key supporting role," per Variety, in the Rupert Wyatt sci-fi thriller "Captive State," though that film won't be released until the summer of 2018.

Layne was able to beat out more than 300 actresses for the role, which could launch her career the way that "Moonlight" launched the career of Trevante Rhodes, who played the film's main character as an adult.

Jenkins met with actresses for almost two months but settled on Layne, whom he admired for her "ability to show a rich interior life."

Who else will be in the film?

The only other confirmed actor in "If Beale Street Could Talk" is Stephan James, who has a much lengthier resume than his imminent co-star. The 23-year-old played the lead role of track legend Jesse Owens in "Race," and he played a key role in the Fox television drama "Shots Fired." He also appeared in the Oscar-winning film "Selma."

What is 'If Beale Street Could Talk' about?

James Baldwin's novel takes place in Harlem in the early 1970s.

Its main character is Tish (Kiki Layne), a 19-year-old girl from a dysfunctional family who takes solace in her relationship with Fonny (Stephan James), her fiancé. After Fonny is accused of a crime and imprisoned, Tish finds out that she is pregnant. She sets out with her family and lawyer to prove Fonny's innocence before the baby is born.

Other notes on the film

Jenkins wrote the script for "If Beale Street Could Talk" in the summer of 2013—the same summer during which he wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for "Moonlight." He has wanted to make the film for years. Annapurna Pictures will finance and distribute the film. The film will also reunite production companies Plan B and PASTEL, which worked with Jenkins on "Moonlight."

The late Baldwin had another one of his works recently adapted to the screen: his unfinished manuscript "Remember This House" was turned into "I Am Not Your Negro," which was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 89th Academy Awards.