Barry Jenkins is one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People

Barry Jenkins arrives at the Oscars in Los Angeles. Jenkins will follow up his Oscar winning film with a drama series for Amazon based on Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad.” (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

Barry Jenkins, the Miami native and director of Oscar-winning film “Moonlight,” was named one of Time’s Most Influential People Thursday.

The honor, to be grouped among a diverse shortlist that includes public figures such as U.S. Representative John Lewis and Pope Francis, is another win for Miami-Dade County, and specifically Liberty City, where Jenkins was raised.

In a short bio on, former inductee Kathryn Bigelow wrote about Jenkins as a grounded filmmaker, able to move audiences by staying authentic:

He not only knows where he is coming from, but he has the gift of being able to show you that place and make you understand it—from capturing the literal colors of a city to the deep untold anguish of a young boy searching for his place.

“Moonlight,” which is based on a play written by Tyrell McCraney, tells the story of a black boy who struggles with the strain of masculinity, poverty and identity in Liberty City. It won three Oscars for Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay and the biggest prize of the awards show, Best Picture,  in a memorable kerfuffle that was heartbreaking and electrifying all at once.

Barry Jenkins, foreground left, and the cast accept the award for best picture for “Moonlight” at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Jenkins said didn’t have the opportunity that night to articulate what his win meant for people like Chiron, the main character in “Moonlight.”

“[‘Moonlight’ playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney] and I are this kid. We are Chiron. And you don’t think that kid grows up to be nominated for eight Academy Awards. It’s not a dream he’s allowed to have. I still feel that way. I didn’t think this was possible,” Jenkins said. “But now I look at other people looking at me and if I didn’t think it was possible, how are they going to? But now it’s happened. So what I think of possibility, let’s take it off the table. The thing has happened.”

Time’s 100 Most Influential People is another accolade Jenkins can add to the glowing number of things children can aspire to accomplish, even if they are from one of Miami’s poorest and grittiest neighborhoods.

The list, which pinpoints both emerging and established leaders in five categories, is not without controversy. Few people would argue Jenkins’ selection, but other people such as Stephen Bannon, President Donald Trump’s chief strategist and founder of Breitbart, and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick might raise an eyebrow.
Jenkins is collaborating with author of “The Underground Railroad,” Colson Whitehead, to turn the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning book into a series on Amazon.
Both Jenkins and Whitehead were named in the artists category. The other groups are pioneers, leaders, titans and icons.
Jenkins will be honored along with McCraney, who is also from Liberty City, at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, 6161 NW 22nd Avenue, Miami on Saturday.

If you go

When: Saturday, April 22
Time: Noon
Where: African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, 6161 NW 22nd Avenue, Miami 33142
Cost: Free with RSVP at