Michael Beach (left) and Michole Briana White (right)
Michael Beach (left) and Michole Briana White (right)

Principal photography has begun on the University of Southern California production titled Only Light, directed by Evita Castine (USC’s Saudade). The drama, scripted by Thembi L. Banks (USC’s award winning Present Trauma), is one of three projects chosen by the school – to back financially - for its most competitive graduate level course.


Produced by Elena Ostroumova and Zachary Skipp, Only Light centers on Zora (played by newcomer Brooke McNeil), a rebellious teenager trapped in “mundane suburbia,” who discovers Laeticia, a young girl involved in a sex trafficking ring next door. 

Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd serves as the film casting director, bringing in Michael Beach as Zora’s father Roy; Aaron Spears (BET’s Being Mary Jane) will play suspected sexual predator Vannie; Michole Briana White (who will be seen next in Lila and Eve starring Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez) will play Zora’s mother Claire; and actress/awards show host Kennedy Zimet, whom Byrd considers her “Lupita Nyong’o,” will play the sex traffic ring victim. 

Kennedy Zimet
Kennedy Zimet

When Byrd was asked why she wanted to be involved in the Only Light project, she stated: 

“I chose Only Light because of the subject matter. It is timely, provocative and important! I want to do projects that touch lives, provoke action and change - much like FIG opened eyes to prostitution, and FRUITVALE STATION shed light on the plight of Police Brutality – Only Light will change the perception of Sex Trafficking…plus, I think I found my Lupita Nyong’o.” 

Screenwriter Thembi L. Banks’ inspiration and goal for writing the script was to “create an emotional connection with audiences and the women that experience devastating experiences.” Banks also wanted to “shed light” on these types of despicable crimes that are usually covert and undisclosed.

*Via press release