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Empire Waist - What We Know So Far

Writer-director Claire Ayoub is working hard on her first feature film, "Empire Waist," according to Deadline. Ayoub's inspiration for the coming-of-age film was a 2014 column entitled "Notes to My 12 Year Old Self: Take the Plunge," she wrote for Amy Poehler's Smart Girls website. In the personal essay, Ayoub discusses her decision to quit swimming not for lack of passion but because of the walk from the locker room to the pool in her bathing suit.

Ayoub's letter to her younger self resonated with readers, whose feelings of self-doubt, insecurity, and the pressure of achieving or adhering to societal standards of beauty cause them to abandon their passions, fearing ridicule for their looks and body types. During a live broadcast on Facebook in April 2020, Ayoub told viewers that the response her essay received made her realize there was a story to be told that would make women dealing with the same issues feel less alone.

Here's everything we know about the release date, cast, and plot of "Empire Waist."

When will Empire Waist hit theaters?

According to Deadline, production on "Empire Waist" is currently underway in Syracuse, New York. Ayoub has shared photos from behind-the-scenes on Instagram, and a recent snapshot and caption revealed filming on "Empire Waist" should be completed soon. On November 22, she posted a heartfelt goodbye to several cast members. "We wrapped so many of our gems this week ... My heart is both full and breaking, but I can't wait to reunite and see these brilliant performers on the big screen."

The film, which has all the makings of a sleeper hit, is financed by Wayfarer Studios and P&G Studios/Gillette Venus. "Wayfarer Studios couldn't be more excited to bring Claire's incredible vision to life in making EMPIRE WAIST an anthem of love and positivity for anyone who has struggled with body image and self-acceptance. We need this story now more than ever," stated Justin Baldoni, co-founder of Wayfarer Studios (via Deadline).

As of yet, "Empire Waist" doesn't have a release date, but the film should debut in 2022.

Who's in the cast of Empire Waist?

In early November, Deadline reported Mia Kaplan, Rainn Wilson, Missi Pyle, Jolene Purdy, and newcomer Jemima Yevu had signed on to appear in "Empire Waist."

Kaplan ("SMILF") plays the leading role of Lenore, a girl with a "passion for fashion design." Pyle ("Galaxy Quest") plays Lenore's "image-conscious" mother. Yevu plays Lenore's best friend Kayla, who is "confident, funny, outgoing, and proud of her plus-sized body." Although Wilson's claim to fame is his role as beet farmer and paper salesman Dwight Schrute on "The Office" from 2005-2013, he's appeared in multiple films including "Juno" and "The Meg." Wilson plays Lenore's supportive father, Mark. Purdy left a lasting impression as the pregnant resort employee Lani who gives birth in Episode 1 of HBO Max's "The White Lotus." Her other acting credits include "WandaVision" and "Orange Is the New Black." Purdy stars as Ms. Hall, a teacher who exerts a positive influence over Lenore and her friends (via Deadline).

What is the plot of Empire Waist?

"Empire Waist" revolves around "a group of teens who overcome societal bias and celebrate self-acceptance through inclusive fashion design and friendship" (per Deadline). Kaplan's Lenore is a teenager who spends her time trying to "make herself invisible in her day-to-day life to avoid being bullied" by both her classmates and her mother. Luckily, Lenore has a support system in Kaplan's Kayla, Wilson's Mark — who is "his daughter's biggest cheerleader" — and Purdy's Ms. Hall who "encourages the girls to step outside their comfort zones and embrace their full talents," per (Deadline).

"EMPIRE WAIST is the film I wish I'd seen as a teen struggling with my own body image issues. The film is a laugh-out-loud comedy, but it's also a story that doesn't shy away from the real challenges we all face when it comes to loving ourselves. Self-love is a journey, and this film is a way for people of all ages to feel less alone in that struggle," said Ayoub (via Deadline).

"Empire Waist" sounds like an underdog story with flair, a "Rocky" with wedges.