EXCLUSIVE: Asante Blackk (When They See Us) and Luis Guzmán (Traffic) have been tapped as the leads for Aristotle Torres’ feature directorial debut Story Ave, for FirstGen Content (Catch the Fair One, Call Jane) and Jamie Foxx’s Foxxhole Productions. The film, which has wrapped production in New York, will also star Alex Hibbert (Moonlight), Melvin Gregg (Nine Perfect Strangers), Cassandra Freeman (Monsters and Men) and Coral Peña (For All Mankind).
Based on Torres’ 2018 short of the same name co-written by Bonsu Thompson — which was, in turn, based on Torres’ life — Story Ave follows a teenage graffiti artist (Blackk) who, after running away from home, holds up an unsuspecting MTA worker (Guzmán) in a robbery gone right that changes their lives forever.
Story Ave is a FirstGen Content and Foxxhole Entertainment Production, in association with Mero Mero Production, The Space Program, and Dark Rabbit Productions. Torres and Thompson developed the feature through the Sundance Director and Screenwriter Labs, with Guzmán and his son, executive producer Cemi Guzmán of Dark Rabbit Productions, joining the project in its infancy and proving instrumental in advancing Torres’ vision. FirstGen Content and Mero Mero Productions have served as financiers for the film, scripted by Torres and Thompson, with Torres producing alongside Fox, Datari Turner, Lizzie Shapiro and Michael D’Alto. Cemi and Luis Guzmán are joined as exec producers on the project by Claude Amadeo, Randal Sandler, Chris Triana, Martin Cabrera, Robert Aguilar and Gus Deardoff.
Blackk is an Emmys and Critics’ Choice Award nominee who found his breakout role in Ava DuVernay’s Netflix limited series When They See Us, which had him portraying Central Park Five member Kevin Richardson. The actor most recently appeared on NBC’s hit show This Is Us as Déjà Pearson’s (Lyric Ross) boyfriend, Malik, and is set to make his feature debut in Cory Finley’s Landscape with Invisible Hand for MGM and Plan B, opposite Tiffany Haddish.
Guzmán is an Independent Award nominee known for turns in such films as The Taking of Pelham 123, Fast Food Nation, Waiting…, Anger Management, Punch-Drunk Love, The Count of Monte Cristo, Traffic, Boogie Nights and Carlito’s Way, among many others. Notable TV credits include Hightown, Ultra City Smiths, Shameless, Godfather of Harlem, Roadies, Narcos and Oz. The actor recently made an appearance on Peacock’s The Resort and will next be seen in Netflix’s Addams Family series Wednesday, as well as Gareth Evans’ action-thriller Havoc, among other projects.
Hibbert broke out with his turn as Little in Barry Jenkins’ Best Picture winner Moonlight, and has subsequently been seen in Black Panther and Showtime’s The Chi.
Gregg’s feature credits include Lee Daniels’ The United States vs. Billie Holiday, Gavin O’Connor’s The Way Back, Steven Soderbergh’s High Flying Bird and Steven Caple Jr.’s The Land. The actor has also been seen on such series as Nine Perfect Strangers, Snowfall, American Vandal and UnREAL, among others. Additional upcoming projects include Tim Story’s horror-comedy The Blackening, Ira Rosensweig’s sci-fi thriller Share, the Showtime series The Wood and the action-thriller podcast series, Zaya.
Freeman plays Vivian Banks in Peacock’s Bel-Air, and has also been seen on series including The Last O.G., For Life, The Enemy Within, Luke Cage and Single Ladies, to name a few. Notable film credits include Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Monsters and Men, Spike Lee’s Inside Man and Chris Rock’s I Think I Love My Wife. The actress will also soon be seen in Bill Oliver’s custody-battle drama Our Son, toplined by Luke Evans and Billy Porter.
Peña has previously been seen in films like the Amazon YA romance Chemical Hearts, Steven Spielberg’s The Post, the Bel Powley dramedy Carrie Pilby and the drama The Pirates of Somalia with Al Pacino. Additional credits include such series as For All Mankind, The Enemy Within and 24: Legacy.
Torres is a filmmaker based out of New York City who has written and directed such additional festival shorts as Story 2 Tell (2016) and Silent Partner (2021). He’s directed music videos for such artists as J Cole, Nas, 2 Chainz and Ludacris, and has also mounted commercials and campaigns for brands like Pepsi, Red Bull, Under Armour and Starbucks.
Torres is represented by WME, Lighthouse Management & Media and Del Shaw Moonves; Blackk by UTA, M88 and Del Shaw Moonves; Guzmán by Gersh and Gravesend Entertainment’s Michael Bregman; Hibbert by Anonymous Content, Gersh and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern; Gregg by 3 Arts Entertainment, CAA and Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum; Freeman by One Entertainment, Buchwald and Granderson Des Rochers; and Peña by Innovative Artists and Goodman, Genow, Schenkman.
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