If you don’t know who Wanuri Kahiu is, shame on you. That said, she’s the Kenyan director whose lesbian love story Rafiki made history as the first Kenyan film to premiere at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival last year. The movie has thrust Kahiu into mainstream Hollywood that she’s been getting gigs, first with Covers, a romance set in the Los Angeles music world for Universal and Working Title. And now she will be helming the adaptation of acclaimed YA novel The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin.
Universal optioned the rights to the 2015 book published by Little Brown and is developing the adaptation with producers Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane of MWM Studios, Bruna Papandrea, and Reese Witherspoon. Stranger Things star Millie Bobbie Brown has been recruited to star in The Thing About Jellyfish, which tells the story of a young girl named Suzy as she enters seventh grade. When her former best friend dies in a drowning accident – and not believing her mother who says that sometimes “these things happen” – Suzy becomes convinced that the true cause of the tragedy was a rare jellyfish sting.
I’m excited to see how the movie develops and pans out, and having a black woman in the director’s chair shows the needle is being marginally pushed forward in the context of diversity and inclusion in Hollywood.