‘Moonlight’ actors receive warm welcome from classmates in Miami Gardens

MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - Two South Florida students who starred in the Academy Award-winning film “Moonlight” arrived back home (and back to class) after an award-filled weekend.

Actors Jaden Piner, who played Kevin, and Alex Hibbert, who played Chiron, returned to Norland Middle School in Miami Gardens, Wednesday, and received a warm welcome from their fellow classmates.

Tuesday night, both Piner and Hibbert were honored in front of their peers during a Black History Month showcase. On Wednesday, their drama teacher Tanisha Cidel sat alongside the two stars at Norland as they fielded questions from the media.

“My phone is blowing up,” said Hibbert.

Hibbert gushed about his weekend at the Oscars. “It was amazing,” he said. “Everybody kept shouting out our names and stuff. I felt important.”

“Moonlight” is a coming-of-age tale about Chiron (played at different ages by Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes), a gay black man, and his journey of self-discovery in Liberty City.

The film, directed by Barry Jenkins, based on a story by Tarell Alvin McCraney, who are both Miami natives, won three Academy Awards at the 89th Oscars.

“Just to see it go and be something as big as this is just amazing,” said Hibbert.

“It puts Miami on the spot,” said Piner. “It shows that Miami kids are talented.”

Cidel said she knew Piner and Hibbert were talented from the moment she became their drama teacher. “I’m just — I’m really proud of them,” she said. “Really proud.”

She added that “Moonlight” is a story that needs to be told in today’s socio-political climate. “Those real stories — those are the stories that need to be told,” said Cidel. “Those are the stories that are important. And it resonated with everyone across the world, as you can see. It’s just a great ending to a wonderful story.”

Both Piner and Hibbert said they are working on new projects. Hibbert told 7News that he will be working on a Showtime series in Chicago, Illinois.

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