Here's the Academy Award Acceptance Speech Barry Jenkins Would Have Given

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On Day 3 of SXSW, Sunday, director Barry Jenkins recited to an audience in his capacity as keynote speaker the speech he would have read at the Academy Awards, where his film Moonlight won Best Picture in 2017, had that senseless snafu with the envelope, and several esteemed actors being not the quickest on their feet, not happened. Oh, and if the network had just given him a tiny bit of extra time on stage once the mistake had been realized, and if everyone hadn’t been in shock!


The speech read as follows (as reported by Deadline):

“Tarell and I are Chiron. We are that boy. And when you watch Moonlight, you don’t assume a boy who grew up how and where we did would grow up and make a piece of art that wins an Academy Award — certainly don’t think he would grow up to win Best Picture. I’ve said that a lot and what I’ve had to admit is that I placed those limitations on myself. I denied myself that dream — not you, not anyone else — me. And so, to anyone watching this who sees themselves in us, let this be a symbol, a reflection that leads you to love yourself. Because doing so may be the difference between dreaming at all and somehow, through the Academy’s grace, realizing dreams you never allowed yourself to have.”

It’s an inspiring comment, and while I’m glad Jenkins chose to speak it now, I can’t help but feel bitter, anew, over how Moonlight’s moment was overshadowed by the white nonsense of La La Land, even once the Academy had championed it. But perhaps Jenkins took his time relaying the speech precisely to avoid that association, so, in an effort not to prolong it, I’ll just say the speech is in keeping with the sensitive storytelling we’ve come to except from Jenkins.

Below is a clip of Jenkins reading his Moonlight speech (it cuts out the beginning, you have been warned).

contributing writer, nights



I can see why the Moonlight crew didn’t want to take the consolation prize of speaking about their victory a full year later, instead of in the first thrill of victory, like every other acceptance speech. I can see why Barry Jenkins would still want people to hear these words, and why Hannah would mention the lingering resentment about how hard it is to think about that wonderful film without also thinking of a lesser piece of art.