“I want MISS JUNETEENTH to contribute to more diverse representations of African-American women on screen. Through exploring issues unique to black women and our identity and culture, my hope is the film will be a universal story about the resilience of the human condition.”Channing Godfrey Peoples, Writer/Director
I will admit, I was extremely late to the party when it came to viewing the extraordinary MISS JUNETEENTH currently available on VOD. All of the critical acclaim, including the latest Gotham Awards nominations for Nicole Beharie (Best Actress) and Channing Godfrey Peoples (Best Breakthrough Director), bestowed in 2020 is more than well-deserved.
Here’s the synopsis: Turquoise Jones is a single mom who holds down a household, a rebellious teenager, and pretty much everything that goes down at Wayman’s BBQ & Lounge. Turquoise is also a bona fide beauty queen—she was once crowned Miss Juneteenth, a title commemorating the day slaves in Texas were freed –two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Life didn’t turn out as beautifully as the title promised, but Turquoise, determined to right her wrongs, is cultivating her daughter, Kai, to become Miss Juneteenth, even if Kai wants something else.
Godfrey Peoples crafts a beautifully redemptive tale with lessons of resilience, affirmation, and love. It’s a love story to single mothers struggling to find their place and those learning to accept the self-affirmations of their children.
Beharie is a force, which is no surprise because to me she slayed in both The Last Fall and 42, and I love the independence and fortitude her character Turquoise displays, despite her circumstances.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention newcomer Alexis Chikaeze, who more than holds her own as Turquoise’s daughter Kai, perfectly portraying the mixed moods of adolescence and displaying perfect screen chemistry with Beharie.
An uplifting story, with powerful messaging, MISS JUNETEENTH is definitely one to keep in the re-watch queue. I rate it 5 out of 5 on the MMTrometer.
Until next thought, Thomasena