Barry Jenkins suffered racist abuse during Oscars campaign


Moonlight filmmaker Barry Jenkins was left stunned by a limousine driver’s racist comments at a star-studded Academy bash.

The 2017 Best Picture winner attended the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Governors’ Awards in 2016, an event honoring movie legends that is an early part of the Oscars campaign trail.

After the awards, Barry hit up an after-party at the Sunset Tower Hotel in Los Angeles, but decided to get away to see his pal, fellow filmmaker Justin Simien. However, when he spoke to the hotel valet while waiting for his driver, he was advised to take another car as his chauffeur had made a racial slur about him.

According to, the 38-year-old told the audience at a Q&A at the Toronto International Film Festival: “He (the valet) goes, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t get in the car with that dude. When I was out here before, (the driver) looked all agitated, and I said to him, ‘What’s wrong?’ He goes, ‘Oh you know, nothing. I’m just sitting around here waiting around to pick up this n**ger.’ And then he smiled and said, ‘Oh and he’s probably going to get nominated for Best Director.””

The director recalled the story when discussing the importance of his new movie, an adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel If Beale Street Could Talk, which tells the story of Fonny, an African-American man falsely imprisoned for rape after being set up by a racist policeman. In one scene Fonny and his pal Daniel discuss how racism meant they were accused of crimes they did not commit – a feeling Barry said the limousine incident made him relate to.

He said: “So if it could happen to me with someone who’s driving me, a person in power, what the hell do you think happens to some dude working a shift at the factory? Or some dude walking to the bar? So when we got to that scene I was like, This is f**king it. This is it.”

The film, which stars Stephan James as Fonny, premiered on Sunday (09Sep18), ahead of a wide release in November.