Once the Tupac biopic, All Eyez On Me, finally found its director in Benny Boom after years of false starts, the updates started coming on a regular basis. Now that the production is actually, finally, filming in Atlanta, we’re staring to get more casting updates. Yesterday we heard that Danai Gurira has been cast as Tupac’s mom, Afeni Shakur, and now we know who’s going to be playing a good friend of the rapper.
A report from Variety says that The Vampire Diaries actress Kat Graham will take on the role of Jada Pinkett Smith in the film.
Tupac and Jada Pinkett met in high school, at the Baltimore School for the Arts. The two were friends until his death in 1996. A collection of his poetry was found after his death, and published in the book The Rose That Grew from Concrete in 2009. In it, a poem titled Jada appeared, as well as another poem dedicated to her called The Tears in Cupid’s Eyes.
Kat Graham has a lot of performing experience under her belt. She began in the entertainment industry at the age of six, appearing in commercials for products like Barbie, K-Mart and Pop-Tarts. At 15 she began working as a background dancer for artists Missy Elliott, Pharrell and Jamie Foxx, she’s also appeared in music videos for Justin Bieber, John Legend, Nelly, and Usher, among others.
She made her movie debut alongside Lindsay Lohan in the 1998 film The Parent Trap and went on to appear on many TV shows over the next several years. After making her television debut on Lizzie McGuire in 2002, she went on to land roles on shows like CSI, The O.C., Greek, Malcolm in the Middle and Hannah Montana. But, Kat Graham got her most recognizable part when she joined The Vampire Diaries in 2009 as teen witch Bonnie Bennett. She won the Scene Stealer Female Award at the Teen Choice Awards in 2011. Graham was also once rumored to be in the running for the role of Storm in X-Men: Apocalypse.
While it’s unlikely that Kat Graham will be doing any singing in All Eyez on Me, she does also have experience in music. In 2002 she wrote Derailed, which appeared in the Jean-Claude Van Damme movie of the same name. She was a feature performer on two of will.i.am’s third album, and went on to tour as a supporting act for The Black Eyed Peas. She released the song Put Your Graffiti On Me in 2012, and the song reached number five on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart.
Even if you aren’t aware of any of Kat Graham’s rather long list of previous work, you can’t say that the All Eyez On Me filmmakers haven’t found a hard-working performer to fill the role of a young Jada Pinkett. All we have to hope for now is that the rest of the film will feature other strong talents that are well-applied.