At this weekend's Toronto International Film Festival, If Beale Street Could Talk director Barry Jenkins shared a never-before-told story about a driver calling him the n-word during the Moonlight era.
Jenkins, who said the incident occurred while he was waiting on his ride from the Governor Awards to Dear White People director Justin Simien's after-party, recalled a conversation he had with a Sunset Tower Hotel valet.
"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," Jenkins said, as reported by Vulture Monday. "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****r.' 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****r."
Jenkins noted that he was "wearing a $5,000 suit" at the time and had just come from the prestigious Governor Awards, which means this kind of treatment can happen to anyone. "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?" he said.
If Beale Street Could Talk, featuring a script by Jenkins based on James Baldwin's novel of the same name, hits theaters Nov. 30 via Annapurna Pictures.