Director Barry Jenkins on diversity in Hollywood: It's a direction, not a destination
Academy Award winner Barry Jenkins knows that there’s still a lot work to be done when it comes to telling black stories in Hollywood. The writer/director of “Moonlight,” which won the Best Picture Academy Award in 2017, joined Salon’s D. Watkins along with actor Stephan James to discuss the new film “If Beale Street Could Talk.”
The film, out in New York and Los Angeles on December 14 and Christmas nationwide, is based on the James Baldwin novel of the same title. Set in 1970s New York City, a couple struggle with the unjust incarceration of James’ character Fonny. Jenkins emphasized that the appreciation of black-centric stories on the big screen doesn’t stop at this film and other films he’s made like “Moonlight.”
“I like to think of change as being like a direction, not a destination,” Jenkins told Watkins on “Salon Talks.” Referencing his first feature film “Medicine for Melancholy” made in 2008 about a black couple in San Francisco struggling with the gentrification of their neighborhood, Jenkins makes the point that he doesn’t want to stop making stories that focus on black characters,
“There's been too many times where we go, ‘Oh, and we had 'Medicine for Melancholy,' or we had 'Moonlight,' and so, we good.’ It's like, 'No, no, no, no, there's so much more s**t that you have to cover.'”
Watch the video above to hear why Jenkins believes Hollywood has been seeing financial success in black stories. And check out the full episode to hear Jenkins express his passion for James Baldwin and how difficult it was to adapt “If Beale Street Could Talk.”
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