Kelvin Harrison Jr. Cast as Jean-Michel Basquiat in Biopic 'Samo Lives'


Photo: Spencer Pazer

A new biopic about the life of late Brooklyn-born Haitian-Puerto Rican artist Jean-Michel Basquiat is in the works, in which Kelvin Harrison Jr. has been cast in the leading role. The film titled Samo Lives will be produced, written, and directed by Julius Onah with Endeavor Content financing the film Variety reports. Onah co-wrote the script with Peter Glanz.



Harrison will also serve as executive producer on the film. He previously worked with Onah on Luce, in which that project also included production team members John Baker, Rob Feng and Eric Ro. Harrison and Onah's collaboration on Luce garnered them both nominations at the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards. Speaking on stepping into Basquiat's shoes in the film, Variety reported Harrison stated it was "a dream come true." "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,” Onah posted on the film's website SamoLives.com, in regards to Harrison taking on the role of Basquiat.


Although his life was cut short at the age of 27 in 1988, Basquiat's work and legacy have been celebrated over nearly the last thirty-four years in hip hop, fashion, art, and film. Basquiat has become one of the artists who helped define the Neo-Expressionism art movement through his artwork in the 1980s which Samo Lives will explore along with his life, according to Variety.