Moonlight director says a driver called him the n-word during awards season

Barry Jenkins is opening up about facing a racially charged moment in the weeks leading up to winning the Best Picture Oscar for Moonlight in 2017.

The director, 38, was at the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of his new movie If Beale Street Could Talk where he detailed an interaction at the Governor’s Awards that left him shocked.

“So I’m at this party and I was trying to get to my homeboy Justin Simien’s after-party for his show Dear White People,” Jenkins said during the Q&A portion of the night, according to Vulture. “My driver, he had a hard time getting in and out of the valet, because if you pull up and your person’s not there, you’ve got to drive out and circle around.”

He continued, “I come out and the valet person is just like, shocked. I’m like, ‘What’s up?’ He goes, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t get in the car with that dude.’ I’m like, ‘Why?’ He goes, ‘Oh, because when I was out here before, he 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—.’ And then he smiled and said, ‘Oh, and he’s probably going to get nominated for Best Director.’ ‘ Subtext: But he’s still just a n—.”

RELATED: Moonlight director Barry Jenkins reflects on the Oscars the morning after its big win

Jenkins explained how the moment made him think of how other people of color deal with racism on an everyday basis.

“And this is when I’m wearing a $5,000 suit. I’ve just come from the Governor Awards,” 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?”

Jenkins went on to be nominated for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, which he won. Moonlight also took home Best Picture after a historic moment in which La La Land was first called out as the winner mistakingly.

Read more of Jenkins’ story at Vulture.

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