In celebration of Black History Month, Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-nominated film “Moonlight” is partnering with My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a mentoring program initiated by President Barack Obama’s Administration. The organization focuses on empowering young men of color with the resources and support they need in order to achieve their full potential, regardless of circumstance.
The series kicked off Monday night with a screening in Los Angeles, attended by dozens of young men from local schools. Following the screening, Mike Muse of My Brother’s Keeper moderated a talk-back session with the students and the film’s Oscar-nominated talent: Jenkins, stars Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris, and writer Tarell Alvin McCraney. Another screening is set for New York next week.
It seems as if last year’s #OscarsSoWhite backlash has had a marked effect on this year’s pool of projects and talent considered and honored as the 2017 awards season gets underway.
The 2017 Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning, and nominees of color were found in the majority of film and television categories. Indie film sensation “Moonlight”not only garnered a nod for Best Motion Picture, Drama, but also for directing and screenwriting by Barry Jenkins, in the Best Actress category for Naomie Harris, and Mahershala Ali was recognized in the supporting actor category.
Denzel Washington and Viola Davis were honored for their performances in “Fences”, Ruth Negga was nominated for her leading role in “Loving,” and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer grabbed a nomination for her supporting role in the upcoming space race drama “Hidden Figures.” Additionally, Pharrell Williams is in the running for Best Original Score — Motion Picture, for his work on the music for “Hidden Figures.”
On the television side, Donald Glover‘s “Atlanta” received nods in two categories; Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy. Anthony Anderson provides some competition for Glover in the acting category, and “Black-ish” is nominated for Best Comedy Television Series as well. Tracee Ellis Ross gained a nod in the Lead Comedy Actress category, as did “Insecure” star Issa Rae.
In limited series, actress Thandie Newton was nominated for Westworld, and Kerry Washington‘s portrayal of Anita Hill in “Confirmation” was also acknowledged. Emmy winner Courtney B. Vance gained a nod for his work as Johnny Cochran in “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”and the series was nominated in the Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television category alongside Academy Award-winning writer John Ridley’s “American Crime.”
“Moonlight” is a film without any big stars. It’s a drama about a shy, gay kid growing up in the inner city, made by a director (Barry Jenkins) whose last credit (“Medicine for Melancholy”)was so long ago many cinephiles feared he’d hung up the camera and retired. It’s the kind of challenging, deeply personal, fiercely urgent look at black life in America that would be lucky to score a video-on-demand berth, let alone a major theatrical release.
And yet, the no-budget film isn’t just a hit with critics, it is poised to be the breakout indie film of the year. This weekend, “Moonlight” scored the highest per-screen average of 2016, debuting to a sizzling $414,740 in just four New York and Los Angeles theaters. There were sellouts and standing ovations, just as there had been when the film announced itself as a serious awards contender at festivals in Toronto and Telluride.
“This puts it on the Oscar map, big time,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore. “They’ve got something really special here.”
The film’s per-screen average of $103,685 is one of the strongest of the decade. “Moonlight” marks Jenkins’ return behind the camera after an eight-year absence. His previous effort, “Medicine for Melancholy,” earned Independent Spirit Award nominations and was a hit with reviewers when it came out in 2008, but in the ensuing years, Jenkins struggled to find the right vehicle for his talents. A film about Stevie Wonderfailed to get off the ground, and Jenkins dabbled in advertising, carpentry, and had an artistically frustrating stint as a writer on HBO’s “The Leftovers.” His years in the Hollywood wilderness appeared to have come to an end.”
In “Moonlight,” an adaptation of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play, “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,” Jenkins appears to have found the perfect material for his humanistic approach to filmmaking. The picture unfolds in three acts, as it examines Chiron’s troubled childhood in a drug-addled section of Miami, and uses his coming-of-age to illuminate issues of addiction and urban violence. It’s a movie that is of the moment. Jenkins’ film hits theaters as the #BlackLivesMatter movement continues to gain momentum, fueled by a series of shootings of people of color by law enforcement officials. Continue reading “Barry Jenkins’ Film “Moonlight”, an Adaptation of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Play, Could Be This Year’s Indie Box Office Breakout”→
Vanity Fair released a sneak peek of its 20th annual Hollywood Issue on Monday, and it may be the most groundbreaking one yet. The magazine has apparently taken steps toward emphasizing the diversity of Hollywood. For the first time since it began putting out the annual special in 1995, six of the 12 celebrated thespians gracing the 2014 cover are not white. The magazine has come under fire in the past for an apparent lack of diversity. Just a few years ago, as Buzzfeed has pointed out, a 2010 the cover featured nine actresses — all white, thin and under 40 years old.
Over the years the annual selection has included one or two minority actors — such as Angela Bassett in 1995, and Lucy Liu and Salma Hayek in 2004 — but this year’s edition shows how expansive the African-American film scope has grown across several genres.
Among those featured on the three-panel foldout are many of Hollywood’s most heralded actors of the past year, including Oscar nominees Julia Roberts, for August: Osage County, Jared Leto, who is the front-runner in his Best Supporting Actor category for Dallas Buyers Club, and Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o from 12 Years A Slave.
Essence is honoring some powerful black women who have done some extraordinary work in the film and television industry at the 6th annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon. The prestigious event will take place at the Beverly Hills Hotel on February 21. This year’s honorees include Oprah Winfrey, Alfre Woodard, Gabrielle Union, Mara Brock-Akil, Naomie Harris, and breakthrough performer, Quvenzhané Wallis.
“The ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon recognizes the ‘Power of our Presence’, by spotlighting the stellar accomplishments of African-American female performers and creators in film and television,” says Essence editor-in-chief, Constance C.R. White. ”More importantly, the annual luncheon serves as a source of support and inspiration for the incredibly talented community of Black women who are often overlooked in Hollywood.”
Over the years, others like Viola Davis, Zoe Saldana, Angela Bassett and Pam Grier have been honored for their phenomenal contributions.
Colin Salmon attends the Royal World Premiere of ‘Skyfall’ at the Royal Albert Hall on October 23, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Eamonn McCormack/Getty Images)
Black British actors are taking Hollywood by storm. In recent years more and more have been cast in on-screen roles, not just in big budget U.S. films but also on American television. In fact, nowadays it is highly likely a Brit will be found starring in a major Hollywood movie or hit TV series. Currently, U.S. television boasts several black British actors who are regular cast members in popular shows like Homeland and Game of Thrones.
“I love British actors,” says Brooks Jackson Colyar, a Los Angeles-based agent who represents actors and comedians. “I am fascinated they can take that accent and turn it into everyday American English,” she adds. Black British actor David Oyelowo, 36, is a classic example. Born in the Oxford to Nigerian parents, Oyelowo was best known in the UK for playing an intelligence officer in the television drama series Spooks.