“Moonlight” Shines Bright!

Barry Jenkins’ coming-of-age story of a young boy searching for his sexual identity wins 7 Black Reel Awards

Washington, D.C. — In a historic year for African-Americans in films, in front of and behind the camera, the year’s biggest winner at the 17th Annual Black Reel Awards was the small and intimate coming-of-age story of a young boy growing up in a tumultuous, yet nurturing community environment, searching for answers about his sexual identity in Barry Jenkins’ cinematic masterwork, Moonlight. The immensely popular and critically-acclaimed drama from Jenkins won seven Black Reel Awards, the second highest total in awards history, including Outstanding Film, Oustanding Director and Outstanding Screenplay (both for Jenkins), Outstanding Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), Outstanding Breakthrough Actor, Male (Trevante Rhodes), Outstanding Score (Nicholas Britell) and Outstanding Ensemble.



“The genius of Barry Jenkins’ film was in the amazing tenderness that was present throughout his story. Every element of Jenkins’ story works, an outstanding screenplay bolstered by a strong ensemble of actors, masterfully orchestrated by this outstanding auteur,” said Black Reel Awards founder and Executive Director, Tim Gordon. “Moonlight wildly succeeds in shining a light on the challenges that many gay Black men face in their continuing struggle for acceptance.”

Ruth Negga won Outstanding Actress for her role in Loving, portraying Mildred Loving, who along with her husband, Richard, successfully challenged Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws before seeing the law overturned in the historic 1967 ruling of Loving v. Virginia. In addition, Viola Davis won her third Black Reel Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her dynamic turn in Fences. Also honored this year was Janelle Monae who won Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Female for her role in Hidden Figures. Director Ava DuVernay took home her fourth Black Reel Award winning Outstanding Documentary for 13th.

Other notable highlights from the evening include a posthumous win for the late soul singer, Sharon Jones who won Outstanding Song for “I’m Still Here” from her documentary, Miss Sharon Jones! Also taking home his third Black Reel Awards, and entering the winner’s circle for the second year in a row, Idris Elba won Outstanding Voice Performance for The Jungle Book.


Fab Five Film


“With an unprecedented number of African-American filmmakers and actors excelling in Hollywood, the past year, the notion that Black actors and their films can’t be successful should be put to bed,” noted Gordon. If afforded the opportunities that their colleagues and counterparts are offered, the sky is the limit. Thankfully, the Black Reel Awards continues to fulfill its initial mission by establishing itself as the pre-eminent institution that annually values and honors Black excellence in films,” said Gordon.

British filmmaker Andrea Arnold’s captivating road drama about a carefree teenage girl traveling with a magazine sales crew, American Honey, won Outstanding Independent Film. Other feature awards included O.J.: Made in America for Outstanding Emerging Filmmaker for Ezra Edelman, The Land for Outstanding First Screenplay for Steven Caple, Jr. and Eye of the Storm for Outstanding Foreign-Language Film.




On the television side, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story was the evening big winner taking home five Black Reel Awards, including Outstanding TV Movie or Limited Series, Outstanding Actor (Courtney B. Vance), Outstanding Supporting Actor, (Sterling K. Brown), Outstanding Director (John Singleton) and Outstanding Screenplay (Joe Robert Cole). Regina King also made history winning Outstanding Supporting Actress for the second year in a row for American Crime. In addition, Kerry Washington won her second Black Reel Award for Outstanding Actress, portraying Anita Hill in Confirmation.

The Black Reel Awards (BRAs), created in 2000, annually honors African-American and people of African descent in achievement in feature, independent, and television films.

For the full list of Black Reel Awards winners, too numerous to list here, please see below:

17th Annual Black Reel Award Winners

Outstanding Actor
Denzel Washington | Fences

Outstanding Actress
Ruth Negga | Loving

Outstanding Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali | Moonlight

Outstanding Supporting Actress
Viola Davis | Fences

Outstanding Director
Barry Jenkins | Moonlight

Outstanding Screenplay
Barry Jenkins | Moonlight

Outstanding Film
Moonlight  | Dede Gardner, Adele Romanski & Jeremy Kleiner

Outstanding Documentary
13th | Ava DuVernay

Outstanding Ensemble
Moonlight | Yesi Ramirez

Outstanding Foreign-Language Film
Eye of the Storm | Sekou Traore (Burkina Faso)

Outstanding Score
Nicholas Britell | Moonlight

Outstanding Original Song
“I’m Still Here” | Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings (Miss Sharon Jones!)

Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Male
Trevante Rhodes | Moonlight

Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Female
Janelle Monae | Hidden Figures

Outstanding Voice Performance
Idris Elba | The Jungle Book


Outstanding Independent Film
American Honey | Andrea Arnold

Outstanding World Cinema Film
Where the Road Runs Out | Rudolf Buitendach (Equatorial Guinea)

Outstanding Independent Short
$15 Kicks | Jenn Shaw

Outstanding Emerging Filmmaker
O.J.: Made in America | Ezra Edelman

Outstanding First Screenplay
The Land | Steven Caple, Jr.


Outstanding TV Documentary or Special
Beyonce: Lemonade | Beyoncé Knowles & Khalil Joseph

Outstanding TV Movie or Limited Series
The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story | Chip Vucelich, Alexis Martin Woodall & John Travolta, Producers

Outstanding Actor, TV Movie or Limited Series
Courtney B. Vance | The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

Outstanding Actress, TV Movie or Limited Series
Kerry Washington | Confirmation

Outstanding Supporting Actor, TV Movie or Limited Series
Sterling K. Brown | The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

Outstanding Supporting Actress, TV Movie or Limited Series
Regina King | American Crime

Outstanding Director, TV Movie or Limited Series
John Singleton | The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

Outstanding Screenplay, TV Movie or Limited Series
Joe Robert Cole | The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story (“The Race Card”)

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