Moonlight writer-director Barry Jenkins spent the morning of the Oscars at the laundromat. The day after that unforgettable night, where the tiny indie about a gay, black kid growing up in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood nabbed three Oscars including best picture, he spent it at the Four Seasons, perusing the media coverage from the night before while still trying to sort out what exactly happened.
“It’s only been like, 12 hours, so I think I’m still processing it… but it’s wonderful,” says Jenkins. “If I took myself out of my body and I looked at what happened, I would be inspired. I think for a long time certain narratives, certain people just weren’t considered and for the Academy to make this considerable gesture, to see through all those barriers or perceived barriers and just see the film, that’s something.”
During the commotion Sunday night, when La La Land was first announced as best picture only to have the prize rescinded due to an envelope snafu, Moonlight producer Jeremy Kleiner pushed Jenkins to the microphone to speak. He was so shocked that all he remembers now is wanting to hug La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz, the man who identified the mistake to the stunned crowd, when he got on stage. “Beyond that, I didn’t want to say anything. It was too much to process. But something must be said. It was an imperfect situation and it was an imperfect statement that didn’t come out the right way but it is what it is.”
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Jenkins spoke of dreams, he gave his love to La La Land, but had the circumstances been different, this is what he would have said:
“[Moonlight playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney] and I are this kid. We are Chiron,” he says, referring to his background as a child from Liberty City, Miami, whose mother once struggled with drug addiction. “And you don’t think that kid grows up to be nominated for eight Academy Awards. It’s not a dream he’s allowed to have. I still feel that way. I didn’t think this was possible. But now I look at other people looking at me and if I didn’t think it was possible, how are they going to? But now it’s happened. So what I think of possibility, let’s take it off the table. The thing has happened.”
And it’s likely a moment no one will forget anytime soon. Jenkins, for one, plans to recall it fondly.
“It will be remembered and I think in a beautiful way,” Jenkins added. “I know one thing. I’m never going to forget Jordan Horowitz. I just won’t.”