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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