More than a year after that infamous mix-up at the Oscars, on Sunday at the SXSW conference, Moonlight director Barry Jenkins finally delivered the best picture acceptance speech he would have given.
“I’m going to read something that I never read out loud before,” Jenkins opened:
[Moonlight writer Tarell Alvin McCraney] 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. You certainly don’t think he will grow up to win best picture. I’ve said that a lot, and what I 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.
BRB. Crying into my coffee.
The chaos onstage during Oscars night 2017, when the best picture award was at first mistakenly given to La La Land, prevented Jenkins from delivering that poignant speech.
As Variety noted, SXSW held special significance for Jenkins: It was where he premiered his first feature film, Medicine for Melancholy, 10 years ago.
Later in his speech, Jenkins elaborated on the impact of shooting Moonlight in the Miami Liberty Square projects, not far from where he and McCraney grew up.
“I turn and look back at one point, and I see all these kids who are normally running through my shot. They’re sitting at video village, they’re literally sitting in our chairs,” Jenkins said, according to CNN.
“They see in me the dream I never allowed myself to have,” he added.
“If I cried that night, it wasn’t because we won best picture,” Jenkins said. “I cried because I realized I denied myself that dream for so long that I didn’t even recognize it when, through the help of my friends, I was able to give that dream to someone else.”