Newcomer Jamal Woolard will play Christopher Wallace, the slain Brooklyn rapper known as Biggie Smalls or The Notorious B.I.G.
Principal photography is to begin March 24 in New York City, Fox Searchlight Pictures announced.
Woolard, a Brooklyn native, was chosen after a year-long, worldwide search.
George Tillman Jr., who helmed "Men of Honor" and "Soul Food," is set to direct the film.
"Finding B.I.G. was a task in itself and I'm honored that so many young men came out to audition for the role," the real-life Voletta Wallace said in a statement. "However, it was Jamal's charming personality, warm spirit, wonderful sense of humor and beautiful smile that won my heart. He is a talented and charismatic actor and I am excited that he will bring Christopher's character to the big screen."