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Naomie Harris, Janelle Monáe & more attend ATL Screening of 'Moonlight' (VIDEO)

Barry Jenkins, Naomie Harris, Trevante Rhodes and Janelle Monáe"

The stars of Barry Jenkins' critically acclaimed independent film "Moonlight" attended a private screening this week in Atlanta, GA. The event took place at the Regal Atlantic Station and was presented by Gil Robertson and the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA). Actors Naomie Harris, Janelle Monáe and Trevante Rhodes were all smiles as they walked the red carpet and mingled with guests during a pre-screening reception.

“Moonlight” is a three-part narrative spanning the childhood, adolescence and adulthood of an African-American man named Chiron, who survives Miami’s drug-plagued inner city, finding love in unexpected places and the possibility of change within himself. The film is based on Tarrell Alvin McCraney's play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,” and chronicles his real-life experiences as a poor, black, gay boy growing up in the slums of Miami during the early 1980s. “Moonlight” also stars Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Mahershala Ali and Jharrel Jerome.  

Following the screening was a brief Q&A session moderated by Robertson and featuring Jenkins along with the cast and NYU Professor Frank Roberts.  It was revealed during the discussion that Harris initially turned down the role of “Paula,” the crack addicted mother of “Chiron,” because she didn’t want to feed into the negative stereotype of Black women. However, when it was revealed to her by Jenkins that she would be was playing a combination of his mother and McCraney’s mother, she quickly changed her mind and accepted the role.

Monáe, who is making her film debut and will also star in “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK8xHq6dfAo">Hidden Figures,” admitted during the Q&A that she was “nervous as hell” on the first day of shooting. However, she was able to collect herself when she realized that the film was much bigger than her.  She also felt it was her responsibility to help those who may have felt like an outsider at some point in their lives.

Other special invited guests to the screening included filmmaker Deborah Riley, Clark Atlanta University’s Dr. Daniel Black, “If Loving You is Wrong” star Joel Rush, singer Rahbi and a host of others. 

Click here to see more photos + watch the trailer below: 

Ray Cornelius is one of Atlanta’s newest entertainment writers and media personalities. His arts and entertainment website, www.raycornelius.com spotlights the latest in “positive” African-American celebrity news and was established in 2012. Since that time Cornelius has covered a myriad of red carpet premieres, award shows and Atlanta-based films including Tyler Perry’s Temptation, The BronzeLens Film Festival, The Trumpet Awards, and The Steve Harvey’s Neighborhood Awards just to name a few. He has also interviewed a who’s who list of today’s top singers, actors and reality stars. With nearly 20 years of media experience, Cornelius has also worked as an associate producer for the Emmy-winning public affairs program, ATL Insider and with such award shows as The Soul Train Awards, The Trumpet Awards and BET Hip-Hop Awards.