Joi McMillion, Oscar-Nominated Co-Editor of Barry Jenkins’ ‘The Underground Railroad’

Joi McMillion lives up to her name on a daily basis — you’ll rarely catch the Oscar-nominated editor with anything less than a smile. As the co-editor of Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, Joi became the first black woman to be nominated for an Oscar for film editing and the proof is in the process. Joi and longtime friend and colleague Nat Sanders knew Barry from their time at FSU’s film program and have since established a long and successful working relationship together. After working on If Beale Street Could Talk, Joi took on a project she’s never worked on before: a television series on a streaming service.

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Barry Jenkins and the Cast of ‘The Underground Railroad’ Discuss the Powerful Limited Series

Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad is a necessary reading for the ways it transcends a violent history and navigates the magic of self determination and Black personhood. The novel, published in 2016 and winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book awards for fiction, follows the life of Cora and Caesar, two slaves in 19th century Georgia who take on the treacherous journey that is their freedom. The novel is bold, loving, and powerful, and with its serving as the basis for director Barry Jenkins’ (Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk) Amazon series by the same name, it has become necessary viewing.

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A ‘Gaze’ into the Soul of ‘The Underground Railroad’

by Barry Jenkins | Originally published on Vimeo

In my years of doing interviews and roundtables and Q&A’s for the various films we’ve made, there is one question that recurs. No matter the length of the piece or the tone of the room, eventually, inevitably, I am asked about the white gaze. It wasn’t until a very particular interview regarding The Underground Railroad that the blindspot inherent in that questioning became clear to me: never, in all my years of working or questioning, had I been set upon about the Black gaze; or the gaze distilled.

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‘Black Panther’ Breaks the Oscars’ Superhero Ceiling

History was made this morning when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences unveiled its list of honorees celebrating the films of 2018 and named Black Panther as one of the nominees for Best Picture. While plenty of comic book films have received nominations over the decades, no superhero film had ever been nominated for the most prestigious prize of the night. The Dark Knight came closest in 2009 — winning a posthumous Best Supporting Actor award for Heath Ledger and prompting the Academy to expand its nomination list from five to ten the following year.

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Interviewing Kiki Layne of ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’

There is no question the work of writer and activist James Baldwin is timeless and timely because no matter how long ago he wrote his books, essays, and social commentary, his words are always right on time. Barry Jenkins’ new film If Beale Street Could Talk is an adaptation of the novel of the same name that works to capture the essence of Baldwin’s message of love, poverty and a broken justice system.

The film stars Kiki Layne and Stephan James as Tish and Fonny, young lovers from Harlem in the 1960s. When Fonny is accused on a crime he didn’t commit, and Tish discovers she is pregnant, her family rallies together to prove Fonny’s innocence.

With the film releasing in select theaters in New York and LA, The Nerds of Color are just in time with interviews. I enjoyed talking with the charming young actress Kiki Layne about love, family, and working with legendary actress Regina King.

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Stephan James Talks ‘Beale Street’ and Black Love

Barry Jenkins’ new film If Beale Street Could Talk is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by James Baldwin. When writing the book, I’m sure Baldwin never thought his works would be translated on screen. A conversation can also be had on whether or not James Baldwin ever thought his work would be as poignant today as it was 44 years ago. The justice system is still screwed, Black folks are still in poverty in America, but hopefully the public’s view of ‘Black love’ will change upon viewing this film.

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‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ is an Impressive Achievement

New York City isn’t the diverse utopia many think it is. If there is any system that shows just how broken things are, it is the city’s police force where “protect and serve” is on a circumstantial based on the color of your skin. This is among the many themes in James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk, which is in good hands with director Barry Jenkins.

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Moonlight and Get Out: Renaissance or Wave?

This has been an amazing ten months for Black cinematic culture. We had Beyoncé’s Lemonade in April 2016. Donald Glover’s Atlanta and Ava Duvernay’s Queen Sugar both premiered on September 6, 2016. Luke Cage’s entire season broke the Internet on September 30. Barry Jenkins’s Best Picture Oscar winning Moonlight dropped October 2016. So did Issa Rae’s Insecure. And then the wicked mind of Jordan Peele unleashed Get Out, this past weekend. There were other films, television shows, videos and the like, but damn. Look at this trajectory. It would be so easy to label this a Black Cinematic Renaissance, but I don’t think I want to be that optimistic.

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Moonlight Shines a Light on Black Masculinity and Sexual Identity

Originally published at Just Add Color

The buzz right now is for a film named Moonlight. The film, the second for writer-director Barry Jenkins, tells a haunting tale of a boy named Chiron whose battle throughout life is coming to terms with his identity as a gay black man. That identity is complicated by merciless taunts at school and a home life surrounded by drugs and hard drug dealers.

The film looks like it’ll become one of the most important films of the latter half of 2016 and into 2017, and rightfully so. When popular culture thinks of black men, they often think of them as how they are presented in Moonlight; as gangbangers and drug dealers. But in Moonlight, even those characters — including the main character, who later becomes a drug dealer himself in Atlanta because that’s all he’s known and that’s probably how he feels he can best hide himself and fit in — have a tenderness and humanity that is often denied them by society and, consequently, by other forms of media.

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