The director behind the 2018 Cannes Film Festival premiere Rafiki is stepping in for George Tillman Jr. who was originally attached to On The Come Up. Kay Oyegun adapted On The Come Up and State Street and Temple Hill are producing along with Thomas. On The Come Up was first set up at Fox 2000 last February.
On The Come Up, from HarperCollins imprint Balzer & Bray, centers on 16-year-old Bri, who wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. As the daughter of an underground hip-hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri has massive shoes to fill. But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral for all the wrong reasons.
Thomas’ YA novel The Hate U Give sold close to 1M copies and was turned into a Fox 2000 feature two years ago which she executive produced and Tillman Jr. directed. The 97% certified fresh Rotten Tomatoes movie tackled socially relevant issues like violence, identity, and injustice. The book remained on the New York Times Best Sellers list for more than 100 weeks.
Kahiu’s feature Rafiki followed two girls who fall in love with each other in Nairobi despite the ever-watching gaze of the neighborhood. The movie was nominated for the Queer Palme at Cannes. Kahiu’s first 2009 feature From A Whisper was based on the real events surrounding the 1998 twin bombings of US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and won Best Narrative Feature in 2010 at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, as well as five awards at the African Movie Academy Award, including Best Director and Best Screenplay.
In 2010, the filmmaker’s short science fiction Pumzi premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and also landed Kahiu the Venice Film Festival ‘Citta di Venezia’ award.
Kahiu is a TED fellow and a World Economic Forum cultural leader. She is repped by CAA and The Gotham Group.