At a Q&A following Sunday’s premiere of his new movie “If Beale Street Could Talk” ― an adaptation of the James Baldwin novel about a wrongfully imprisoned black man and his girlfriend ― Jenkins stayed on the topic of bigotry.
He recalled trying to leave a party for the Academy’s Governors Awards as his 2016 movie “Moonlight” gained awards momentum. His driver was having difficulty navigating the valet system. But there was a bigger problem: His driver was apparently a racist jerk.
Jenkins said, per Vulture:
“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 nigger.’ 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 nigger.”
“And this is when I’m wearing a $5,000 suit,” Jenkins added, according to Vanity Fair. “I’ve just come from the Governor Awards. 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?”
Jenkins said the moment connected with him in a scene from his new film, in which a character named Daniel (Brian Tyree Henry) is fresh out prison and tells a friend how the police accused him of stealing a car when he doesn’t know how to drive, and how white men could do anything they wanted to him while he was behind bars.
“We’ve got to tell those damn stories,” Daniels said.