‘Moonlight’ Writers Dedicate Best Adapted Screenplay Win to the Underrepresented

Barry Jenkins Tarell Alvin McCraney Oscars
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney won the best adapted screenplay Oscar Sunday night for “Moonlight.”

The duo received a standing ovation as they took the stage to accept the award.

“All you people who feel like there’s no mirror for you, the Academy has your back, the ACLU has your back, we have your back, and for the next four years, we will not forget you,” Jenkins said, addressing the rollback of civil rights by the Trump administration.

“This goes out to all those black and brown boys and girls and nongender conforming who don’t see themselves, we’re trying to show you you and us,” McCraney added. “Thank you, thank you. This is for you.”

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Jenkins, who wrote the script, and McCraney, who received a story by credit and wrote the short script “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,” which inspired the film, become just the third and fourth black screenwriters to win an Oscar for writing. The previous two were Geoffrey Fletcher (“Precious”) and John Ridley (“12 Years a Slave”). The victory comes at the end of a long road for the script, which was classified as original by the Writers Guild (where it also won) and nearly every other organization.

But the Academy shifted its categorization late in the game, deeming it an adaptation despite the fact that McCraney’s piece had never been published or produced. The University of Southern California’s annual Scripter Awards also honored the piece, a unique event that awards both the screenwriters and the authors of source material for adapted screenplays.

Their adapted screenplay beat out “Lion,” “Hidden Figures,” “Arrival” and “Fences.”

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