Miami-grown ‘Moonlight’ wins best picture at 74th Golden Globes

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Mahershala Ali (“House of Cards,” “Luke Cage”) plays a drug dealer and mentor to Chiron, whose younger self is played by Alex Hibbert in “Moonlight.” The Miami-based film took home this year’s Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama. Ali also received a nomination for Best Performance by a Supporting Actor. // Photo courtesy A24 Films.

Update, 12:18 p.m., Jan. 9, 2017: Tarell McCraney officially stepped down from his UM faculty position Dec. 31, but will still be on campus in the spring semester to work on pending projects. 

“Moonlight,” the 2016 independent film based on Tarell McCraney’s play, “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,” took home Best Motion Picture – Drama at the 74th Golden Globe Awards Sunday night. “Moonlight” tells the story of a young gay man coming of age in the poverty-stricken Liberty City neighborhood of Miami. For a review of the film, read more here.

In an NBC red carpet interview, Best Supporting Actor nominee Mahershala Ali (“House of Cards,” “Luke Cage”) said that it was a “deeply personal” story for the film’s creators. McCraney, a former faculty member, and writer-director Barry Jenkins both grew up in Liberty City at around the same time, though they never met before collaborating on the film. Their memories of the area’s crack addiction, HIV/AIDS epidemic and impoverishment shaped the characters and stories told in “Moonlight.”

“Moonlight,” produced by A24 Films, was nominated for a total of six Golden Globes, including Best Screenplay – Motion Picture and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role. Modern musical “La La Land” proved a worthy contender, sweeping several of these categories and taking home the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical.

McCraney, who attended high school at the prestigious New World School of the Arts in downtown Miami, until recently served as a professor of theatre and civic engagement in the University of Miami School of Theatre. During his time at UM,  the MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient taught acting and worked on developing an intensive drama outreach program for African-American high school girls.

In early December, McCraney was named the new playwriting department chair at Yale School of Drama, his alma mater, a role he will assume full-time July 1. While McCraney officially stepped down from his UM faculty position Dec. 31, he will still be on campus in the spring to work on pending creative projects with the Department of Theatre Arts, according to department chair Stephen Di Benedetto.

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