Kelvin Harrison Jr. is set to play artist Jean-Michel Basquiat in a new biopic from director Julius Onah.
Harrison and Onah collaborated on Luce, a critical favorite which got both best male lead and best director noms at 2020’s Independent Spirit Awards.
The film title, Samo Lives comes from the the groundbreaking New York-born, Haitian-Puerto Rican artist whose graffiti tag was Samo.
Basquiat died in August of 1988 at 27, but his groundbreaking work has had a huge impact on the art world since. An Untitled work sold at Sotheby’s in 2017 for $110.5 million and his work is consistently among the top 5 money makers at auction every year.
In a lengthy statement Onah described his relationship with Basquiat’s work and explained his vision for the project,
Jean-Michel Basquiat redefined the idea of who ascends to the highest altitudes of the fine art world.
But the complexity and richness of his experience as an artist and child of the African diaspora has yet to be dramatized in the manner it deserves.”
Onah first discovered Basquiat when he was 14 and was inspired by Julian Schnabel’s 1996 film Basquiat, starring Jeffrey Wright.
Never have we seen the full spectrum of Basquiat’s incredible life as a Black artist and a child of the immigrant African diaspora. And the richness and nuance of his journey is a story worthy of celebration.”
The sensitivity and soulfulness Kelvin will bring is the reason why I know the story I’m seeking to tell will truly honor Jean-Michel’s legacy.”
Filming on Samo Lives is expected to begin this fall.