African Heritage Cultural Arts Center honors ‘Moonlight’ cast

MIAMI (WSVN) - The African Heritage Cultural Arts Center held a special ceremony, welcoming the creators of the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight” back home to Miami, Saturday.

“I’m honored to recognize Miami’s own award-winning brilliant local actors for their groundbreaking work in the Oscar-winning work in ‘Moonlight,’ and thank them for their contributions to the arts, their community, our great nation and the world,” said Florida Representative Frederica Wilson.

Hundreds of people packed the area to get a glimpse of the local stars. Several members of the cast and crew were there — like Jaden Piner, director Barry Jenkins and playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney.

This is the first joint public appearance for Jenkins and McCraney since bringing home the Academy Award for Best Picture.

“The Cultural Center was there for us from day one,” said Jenkins. “Shariff was cast from the Cultural Center, so there is nothing special about me or this film. The result may be special, but I’m just an average brown boy from Liberty City who works very hard.”

The crowd was later invited to ask the duo questions about the movie — and growing up in Liberty City.

“We know, in Liberty City, that life doesn’t fix itself overnight, it takes hard work and dedication to get to the places we get to,” McCraney said. “A movie about that, representations about that, I hope, give permission for people to be themselves.”

The day ended with the ultimate honor — Mayor Carlos Gimenez unveiling Moonlight Way, a new street named after the hit movie that helped put the Miami community on the map.

“They made us proud, so we want to make sure that we show our token of appreciation for making us proud,” Gimenez said.

After the event, Jenkins and McCraney each donated $20,000 to the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center.

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