Top Left: (Left to right) “Moonlight” filmmaker Barry Jenkins shares a laugh on stage with Miami-Dade County Commissioner – Vice Chair Audrey Edmonson and Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Top Right: Barry Jenkins and renowned playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, from whose work “Moonlight” was adapted, jointly present a donation of $40,000 to the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center. Bottom Left: Moonlight Way street sign is unveiled with cast members Jaden Piner and Tanisha Cidel in front. Bottom Right: Barry Jenkins, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and Tarell Alvin McCraney, centered, are surrounded by members of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project.
Moonlight creators Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney presented $40K donation to start Cinematic Arts Program at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center
MIAMI – Hundreds attended the celebration Liberty City’s own Barry Jenkins Tarell Alvin McCraney, creators of the film “Moonlight,” and the cast, crew and producers at the Heritage Cultural Arts Center on Saturday, April 22.
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson brought impressive 5000 Role Models on stage as read the entry into the U.S. congressional honoring “Moonlight” and its creators.
Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez and Vice Chairwoman Audrey M. Edmonson led the crowd from the Outdoor Stage Presentation to a surprise unveiling of the actual Moonlight street sign located on the NW 22nd Ave side of the center.
“Moonlight” cast member Sharif Earp said kids will see the sign and instead of picking up a gun, they will know that they can pick up a camera or book and go to Moonlight Way.
During the outdoor presentation, Jenkins and McCraney jointly presented a $40,000 donation to youth on stage as seed funding to start a Cinematic Arts Program at the AHCAC.
McCraney, an alumnus of the center, thanked its director, Marshall L. Davis Sr. for finding the funds that gave him access to its programs as a child from an impoverished home.
The audience was captivated by the spectacular on-stage performances from Entourage, the center’s apprenticeship program that offers a unique stage and music concert experience for aspiring vocalists.
Wesley Wray, a dynamic young troupe member, had the audience on their feet for his performances of “A Change Is Gonna Come” and “Rise Up.” Zipporah Hayes, instructor and performer, showcased her talent and expertise in a spirited and heartfelt rendition of “Georgia.”
Before the movie screening, Jenkins and McCraney participated in a Q&A in the AHCAC theater, facilitated by Jill Tracey of HOT 105. The cast members told endearing stories about how they were cast for their roles.
Earp shared that he was only able to audition because he lived close enough to walk to the AHCAC. Doing so changed his life profoundly. Other cast members also have AHCAC connections. Jaden Piner is also a center alumnus and Tanisha Cidel was hired straight from college by Davis to teach there.
The center was one of the locations featured in “Moonlight” and served as a local venue for the film, largely due to McCraney’s influence.
Brad Pitt visited the center for the filming of the scenes in the facility’s dance studio, music hall entrance and a classroom. Auditions were held in the center’s theater and some of the actors affiliated with the center were cast. The center and Davis, who is a mentor to McCraney, are listed in the movie credits.
AHCAC has a long-standing reputation of providing high caliber art instruction. Students ages 5-16 receive professional instruction in music, dance, drama and visual arts within a creative and secure environment after school, on weekends and during spring, winter and summer breaks from school.
Distinguished alumni include McCraney, Robert Battle, Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Bianca Brewton, a professional dancer with the production companies of Janet Jackson and Beyoncé; Shareef Clayton, a Jazz trumpeter, who studied with Arturo Sandoval and performed with Stevie Wonder; and tap dancer Marshall Davis Jr., associate choreographer of the Tony nominated play, “Shuffle Along.”
Entourage will present their annual showcase on Saturday, April 29 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students with a student ID.
Enrollment is also now open for various programs. For more information, call 305-638-6771 during business hours Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. or visit www.ahcacmiami.org.