Prince could play this gifted, Hilde Lysiak-inspired reporter to perfection.
One of the best things about this past awards season cycle has definitely been Brooklynn Prince. She knocked the film world over with a delightfully unruly performance in The Florida Project. The film was just her second feature ever, but she stole the show entirely.
There is only one way to describe Prince’s onscreen presence, and that’s to call her genuine. She always had her work cut out for her in such a taxing and bitingly real drama as a Sean Baker social examination. Nevertheless, she brought balance to the stark harshness of The Florida Project in mesmerizing ways. It’s no wonder that Prince was nominated for a plethora of critics’ awards for her role as Moonee, even winning Best Young Performer at the 2018 Critics’ Choice Awards.
Prince’s career continues to flourish as it should, too. She has the Steven Spielberg-produced The Turning in the works and will lend her voice to The Angry Birds Movie 2 and The One and Only Ivan — the latter co-stars the likes of Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, and Angelina Jolie. Despite the fact that at least one of these choices sounds superfluous and silly, they are actually ideal films for a young rising star. More lighthearted fare such as an Angry Birds sequel paired alongside a supernatural horror movie lends a welcome variety to Prince’s filmography, especially after such an affecting drama as The Florida Project.
But Prince is absolutely not leaving seriousness behind. She most recently landed her first ever television role in a show that truly seems ideal for a charismatic actress like her. As reported by Deadline, Prince has been cast to headline an untitled 10-episode mystery series for Apple that will be based on the life of child journalist Hilde Lysiak. Jon M. Chu, who directed Crazy Rich Asians to great success, was announced to helm and executive produce the project a few months ago.
The show will track a young girl (Prince) as she moves away from big city life in Brooklyn to the small town that her father grew up in. The picturesque lakeside that she must now call home seems rife with secrets, though. The child’s investigative spirit is fully ignited when she uncovers a cold case that the whole town – including her father – is determined to keep under wraps.
Per Variety, a Lysiak series was first optioned by Paramount Television and Anonymous Content back in 2016 when the child reporter made waves covering a possible murder in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. Lysiak’s claim to fame arrived when she then beat other media outlets to the punch, publishing an exclusive report on her findings in a local paper that she and her father co-founded in 2014. Lysiak also filmed video footage of the crime scene to post on their paper’s website and YouTube channel hours ahead of her competitors.
Her exploits have garnered her fame and notoriety. Lysiak was offered a book deal to produce a four-installment series titled “Hilde Cracks the Case.” These books were meant to be the basis of Paramount and Anonymous’ TV series when it was first announced two years prior. Whether that remains the case hasn’t been confirmed by the updated Deadline reports.
Furthermore, Lysiak’s age has also brought detractors out of the woodwork, who have commented that such brutal incidences ought not to be reported on by someone so young. The precocious journalist begged to differ, defending herself in an op-ed that was published in The Guardian:
“I don’t think people should be able to decide for me who I should be and what I should be doing. I never began my newspaper so that people would think I was cute. I started the Orange Street News to give people the information they need to know. I want to be taken seriously. I’m sure other kids do, too.”
After Prince’s expert turn in The Florida Project, playing some equivalent of the equally spunky Lysiak is a logical step forward in her career. Prince isn’t just great at being cute for the camera, although she absolutely makes every practical joke and snarky remark in Baker’s feature sail with her unbridled innocence and plucky personality. Rather, Prince’s Moonee also has the ability to channel unspoken perceptiveness to a crumbling adult’s world around her. This makes her character all the more powerful in the film, and vital to its emotional grounding.
Although Prince’s casting is a no-brainer, the project could actually mark a fascinating shift for Chu as a director as well. Fans of his work are definitely aware of his tendency to make feel-good films, with many of these projects including dance to some degree.
Chu made his feature directorial debut with Step Up 2: The Streets and went on to contribute to other sequels in the Step Up series as either director or executive producer. Moreover, he spearheaded two Justin Bieber concert movies and the musical fantasy Jem and the Holograms. Still, in spite of Chu shifting towards making films of other genres — namely G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Now You See Me 2, and finally Crazy Rich Asians — it is still abundantly clear that he typically operates in less serious cinematic settings.
Thus considering the plot of the Lysiak Apple series, the concerted dramatic focus on a murder mystery appears to be comparably darker for Chu. Yet, it’s worth remembering that he has tackled serious topics in the past — he just puts his own spin on them. For instance, one of his very first short films, Silent Beats, deals with preconceived notions surrounding racial differences. Chu’s signature dance angle is still present in such an unnerving piece; in fact, it even provides an unexpected layer of disconcerting tension throughout the short.
As a result, I’m not writing Chu off as the right director for Apple’s untitled Lysiak-based series. Casting Prince is a real triumph here, too. The diversity of her projects already signals a willingness to experiment and challenge herself as a blossoming actor, and this show allows her a crack at another substantial lead role.