Moonlight star Naomie Harris cares more about audiences seeing director Barry Jenkins‘ story than the Oscar buzz surrounding her performance.
In the film, the 40-year-old British actress plays drug addict mother Paula, a character based on the childhood experiences of both the director and Tarell McCraney, the writer who penned the outline of Moonlight‘s story as a drama school project.
It has been tipped as an early Academy Awards contender, and earned 10 Critics’ Choice Awards nominations earlier this month (Nov16), including a Best Supporting Actress nod for Harris.
Speaking at the British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs), where the film won the Best International Independent Film prize on Sunday (04Dec16), the Skyfall star told WENN she’d love an Academy Awards nomination.
“Of course I would love to (be nominated for an Oscar), it’s amazing to have your work recognized in that way, it would be extraordinary,” she said.
However the actress, who was convinced to take the role by Jenkins’ heartfelt description of his early life, said what mattered more about the role was not wider recognition but getting her portrayal of a character based on his mother right.
“For me what was really poignant and important was that I knew I was playing the role of Barry’s mother and I wanted to get it right for him more than anything,” she added.
The star revealed that working with the director had given her a new perspective on filmmaking and how to bring stories like his own to a wider audience.
“Working with Barry on Moonlight, it’s just made me see directing in such a new way and I just thought, ‘gosh, it would be so wonderful to be able to tell a story about a community that otherwise wouldn’t have its story told,'” she explained, adding she was overwhelmed how well the small-budget movie has done since its U.S. release in October (16).
“I’m really happy that people are turning out to see this movie and to support it, it’s a tiny budget movie and people are seeing it two or three times and it’s rolled out amazingly in the (United) States…It’s just done so well.”
Moonlight has made almost $10 million (£7.9 milion), nearly double its $5 million (£3.9 million) budget, with awards buzz looking set to boost its commercial success.