Tayarisha Poe is a director and writer, known for Selah and the Spades (2019), Honey and Trombones (2012) and The Twilight Zone (2019).
Selah and the Spades is a 2019 American drama film, written and directed by Tayarisha Poe, in her directorial debut. It stars Lovie Simone, Celeste O’Connor, Jharrel Jerome, Gina Torres, and Jesse Williams.
Selah is a senior at a Pennsylvania boarding school, where she leads a faction of students called the Spades who sell drugs to other students. The school has four other factions but unlike the others Selah has no one to replace her when she graduates.
Maxxie is her right-hand man, and together they have developed a secret, efficient operation. A new girl, Paloma, transfers into the school, and when she photographs Selah during Spirit Squad practice, Selah immediately sees her talent. Selah asks Paloma to take incriminating photos of her rival Bobby cheating on her boyfriend, thrusting Paloma into the school’s drama. Selah tells Maxxie that Paloma reminds her of herself, and decides to begin grooming her to take over. Paloma is a fast learner and quickly proves herself in the Spades.
Rumors circulate that there is a rat among the Spades, and after some investigating, Selah discovers that Maxxie had been careless with the ledger used to record their sales, which had caused incorrect orders and affected their reputation. Selah confronts him and ultimately fires him.
The Headmaster announces that due to misconduct of a few of the students, prom has been cancelled. At an emergency meeting of the factions, Selah and Bobby are at each others’ throats casting blame for the prom-cancellation, but Paloma instead suggests that they throw their own prom outside of the school grounds. Each faction agrees to help with a different aspect to make sure the dance is a success. In private, Bobby asks Paloma if she knows about Teela, the girl who was in her position before, and warns her that Selah had drugged her, causing a car crash and ultimately her expulsion. When Paloma asks Selah about Teela, Selah refuses to give a straight answer. After that conversation, Selah digs out a vial of drugs and stashes one of them in her pocket.
On their way to the dance, Selah slips the pill into a tiny bottle of alcohol and gives it to Paloma. During the party, Paloma vomits and becomes unresponsive. Selah finds Maxxie and asks him if he remembers how potent the drug is, and he is immediately worried for Paloma’s safety. The two of them find Paloma, but she runs away from them, and in her disoriented state stumbles over a railing on the side of a cliff. She manages to get hold of the railing before falling off, and Selah and Maxxie hoist her to safety.