Barry Jenkins, Who Won An Oscar For ‘Moonlight,’ Picked To Direct Movie About Alvin Ailey’s Life

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
Barry Jenkins
FILE – In a Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019 file photo, Barry Jenkins accepts the award for best director for “If Beale Street Could Talk” at the 34th Film Independent Spirit Awards, in Santa Monica, Calif. Barry Jenkins will direct a film based on the life of choreographer Alvin Ailey. A spokesperson for Fox Searchlight on Monday, June 3, 2019 confirmed that the studio is developing the project, with the “Moonlight” filmmaker directing. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

Miami’s homegrown Oscar-winning director Barry Jenkins is about to add another iconic movie to his roster. Jenkins has been tapped by Fox Searchlight to direct its Alvin Ailey biopic, reported Deadline.

Ailey is one of history’s most celebrated choreographers. As founder of his namesake Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Dance School, Ailey infused American culture with the beauty of Black dance and musical traditions, including signature pieces like “Revelations.” Eventually Ailey’s company became the standard for aspiring Black dancers.

Jenkins and Fox Searchlight will closely collaborate with Alviin Ailey’s Artistic Director Robert Battle (also from Miami) and Artistic Director Emerita, Judith Jamison, to ensure Ailey’s story and choreography are authentically brought to life on screen. Alicia Keys, Judy Kinberg, Adele Romanski, and Rachel Cohen will produce the project, according to Playbill.

Jenkins joined elite company in 2017 when he was nominated for best director for “Moonlight.,” which won the best picture Oscar. At the time he was only one of four Black directors to receive the honor. Now that number is up to six, with Spike Lee finally getting his due for “BlacKkKlansman.”

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In addition to “Moonlight” and the upcoming Ailey film, Jenkins has received acclaim for his film adaptation of James Baldwin’s “If Beale Street Could Talk” and was hired by Amazon to write and direct its Underground Railroad series.

Jenkins gives young Black boys everywhere someone to look up to. The talented filmmaker comes from Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood and attended Miami Northwestern Senior High School. His upbringing greatly impacts his work and he believes where you start doesn’t have to determine how you finish.

“I just came back from my hometown, making a movie about a kid who grew up just like me, and it was financed by white people in New York. Personally, I can’t be angry. In my personal experience, the support was there,” Jenkins said. “I think everybody can identify, you know, with this sort of struggle to decide for yourself who you are, you know, and what your place in life is.”