Writer in Residence

Dream Casting Frying Plantain

By Zalika Reid-Benta


I know, it's super brave of me to make a post right after the Raptors won the championship (!!!!) but I'm going to do it anyway. The other day I did a talk at the Toronto Public Library (the Annette branch) and during one of the Q&As, someone asked me who my dream cast would be if Frying Plantain were to become a show or a movie. The question actually caught me off-guard and I didn't end up answering it because I'm bad at dream casts in general, much less for my own work. But! I've been thinking about it since Tuesday and I decided that I would have some fun and come up with a dream cast for this post. Some liberties with age are going to be taken considering that a bulk of the stories happen when Kara and her friends are 11-14 years old, so let's just say I'm casting these characters for when they're 16-21 (adults play teens all the time!). So, here we go:


Letitia Wright as Kara



I really liked Letitia's rendition of Shuri in Black Panther: self-assured with a bubbly personality and an undercurrent of vulnerability. Plus she said what I consider to be the most iconic line of the movie:


                                                                                                                 Via pinterest

I think she'd definitely be able to bring out Kara's introversion but also the fieriness that comes out at certain moments.


Jully Black as Eloise


It's Jully Black! Enough said. She's a multifaceted legend.


Karen Robinson as Verna


There are various descriptions of Verna throughout the collection depending on Kara's age and mindset but I definitely believe Karen Robinson would be able to pull off all of Verna's nuances and being of Jamaican heritage is a definite plus!


Philip Akin as George


Another living legend!


Keshia Chante as Rochelle


Hope Olaide Wilson as Anita


Sarah Jeffrey as Jordan


Sarena Parmar as Aishani



Significant Others

Stephan James as The Boyfriend


Fun fact, Stephan James actually went to my old high school (Jarvis Collegiate represent!) but in all seriousness, he was great in If Beale Street Could Talk and he'd be great in a cameo as The Boyfriend.

Jordan Francis as Terrence



Not only was it super fun to come up with a dream cast but I think doing fun games like these actually help the writing process. I haven't created a dream cast for the young adult novel I'm working on now but I have come up with a mood board on pinterest. I've attempted to visualize the characters and the fantasy world on the page and it makes everything all the realer, which further immerses me in my own creation. I'm all for cinematic writing, for stories and characters you can see clearly in your mind's eye and while readers may interpret your world and your characters differently and have their own dream casts for your stories, creating one might help your writing become more concrete and vivid.


For good measure, I decided to add a soundtrack!

No No No by Dawn Penn

Bam Bam by Sister Nancy

Ol Time Killin by Kardinal Offishall

Work by Rihanna

Colouring This Life by Vybz Kartel

Could You Be Loved? by Bob Marley

That Thing by Lauryn Hill

My Love is Your Love by Whitney Houston

Fu-gee-la by The Fugees

Romie by Beenie Man

Hold Yuh by Gyptian

Ring The Alarm by Tenor Saw

Pass The Dutchie by Musical Youth

Everyday Rude Bwoy by Kardinall Offishall

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.

Zalika Reid-Benta is a Toronto-based writer whose work has appeared on CBC Books, in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, and in Apogee Journal. In 2011, George Elliott Clarke recommended her as a “Writer to Watch.” She received an M.F.A. in fiction from Columbia University in 2014 and is an alumnus of the 2017 Banff Writing Studio. She completed a double major in English Literature and Cinema and a minor in Caribbean Studies at University of Toronto’s Victoria College. She also studied Creative Writing at U of T’s School of Continuing Studies. She is currently working on a young-adult fantasy novel drawing inspiration from Jamaican folklore and Akan spirituality.