Moonlight” director and co-writer Berry Jenkins’ upcoming feature film adaptation of James Baldwin’s “If Beale Street Could Talk” secured its first leading star in actor Stephan James

Variety reported yesterday (August 29) that the Canadian-born actor will star in Jenkins’ movie as Fonny, the sculptor fiancée of protagonist Tish and the father of her unborn child. The young Harlem couple’s love is put to the test when Fonny is incarcerated on false rape charges. Tish enlists her family’s help to raise money for Fonny’s legal fees and uncover evidence to exonerate him.

James previously starred in Fox’s police violence drama “Shots Fired” as special prosecutor Preston Terry, and Ava DuVernay’s historical film “Selma” as John Lewis. He also portrayed Olympic sprinter Jesse Owens in the 2015 biopic “Race,” which dramatized Owens’ quest to win multiple gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Nazi Germany.

Variety reports that production will begin on “If Beale Street Could Talk” in October 2017.