'Moonlight's' Barry Jenkins: Here's the Oscar Speech I Would Have Given

Eddy Chen/ABC
Barry Jenkins and Adele Romanski accepted the best picture Oscar for 'Moonlight.'

The movie's writer-director reveals the words he planned to say with a best picture win.

Best picture is a producer's award, so I didn't plan to say much. Given the possibility of going up for adapted screenplay, I assumed there was a chance I wouldn't speak at all, that I would have already said my piece. The plan was to have Adele Romanski speak first, then Jeremy Kleiner and, finally, briefly, myself. I planned to keep it personal, repeating and evolving a story I've told throughout the season:

"Tarell [Alvin McCraney] and I are Chiron. We are that boy. And when you watch Moonlight, you don't assume a boy who grew up how and where we did would grow up and make a piece of art that wins an Academy Award. I've said that a lot, and what I've had to admit is that I placed those limitations on myself, I denied myself that dream. Not you, not anyone else — me. And so, to anyone watching this who sees themselves in us, let this be a symbol, a reflection that leads you to love yourself. Because doing so may be the difference between dreaming at all and, somehow through the Academy's grace, realizing dreams you never allowed yourself to have. Much love."

That came out much differently onstage. Given what happened in those last 10 minutes of the ceremony, I don't know how I managed any words at all. It is what it is.

This story first appeared in the March 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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