EXCLUSIVE: Tayarisha Poe is set to make her directorial debut with the upcoming drama Selah and the Spades.

The film will star Lovie Simone (Greenleaf) as Selah, along with Celeste O’Connor (Wetlands) and Jharrel Jerome (Moonlight). Jesse Williams (Grey’s Antatomy, Random Acts of Violence), Ana Mulvoy Ten (American Crime) and Gina Torres (Suits) round out key supporting roles.

Tayarisha Poe is a Philadelphia-based filmmaker. She was a Sundance Institute Knight Foundation Fellow in 2016 and her feature project Selah and the Spades went on to receive development support from Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters, Directors, and Creative Producing Labs and Catalyst Forum;  Cinereach, IFP, TribecaAll Access, The Leeway Foundation, and Small But Mighty Arts.

In Selah and the Spades, factions provide everything the students need to navigate the challenges of adolescence. The most powerful faction is The Spades. With the end of the school year approaching, Selah (Simone) is confronted with the reality of a future without control as the new sophomore at school, Paloma, journeys deeper into The Spades. As Paloma begins to lead in a different direction from her predecessor, the student begins to outshine the master and Selah becomes determined to reassert her power, no matter the cost.

Lauren McBride, Secret Engine’s Lucas Joaquin and Drew Houpt, and Argent Pictures’ Jill Ahrens are producing.

Executive Producers on the film include Argent partners Ryan Ahrens, Ben Renzo, Drew Brees, Tony Parker, Michael Finley, Derrick Brooks; Terence Nance, Jenifer Westphal, Cinereach, Julie Parker Benello, Nancy Stephens Rosenthal, Chaz Ebert, and Alex Scharfman.

Stephanie DeVaan, David Chan, Kenneth and Elizabeth Whitney and Gottfried and Janet Tittiger are serving as Co-Executive Producers.

Argent’s Jill Ahrens said, “We are extremely excited to be supporting one of the most creative new female voices in filmmaking. Tayarisha has been recognized among her peers and industry veterans as a creative force emerging within the next generation of filmmakers. Her film, Selah and the Spades, tells an unapologetic story that not only provides a recognizable and powerful character for young women but for an entirely new generation that is seeking honest and relatable stories.”

Jesse Williams said “Ms. Poe’s script blew me away and I immediately knew that I wanted to support her and her vision. I’m honored and excited to play Headmaster Banton.”

Lauren McBride said “I am so excited that we are this much closer to sharing Selah and the Spades with the world. Tayarisha’s vision is so unique and specific, it has inspired me every day over the time we’ve spent working together to bring it to life. I’m proud of the team we’ve gathered and grateful to the exceptionally talented cast that has committed to this film.

Poe is represented by ICM Partners, Grandview and Frankfurt Kurnit. Lovie Simone is represented by BUCHWALD and Shirley Grant Management. Celeste O’Connor is represented by Paradigm Talent Agency and Authentic.  Jharrel Jerome is represented by UTA and  Perri Kipperman of Kipperman Management. Jesse Williams is represented by CAA and Headshell Management. Gina Torres is represented by Domain Talent and Framework.