13 Gems Barry Jenkins Dropped On The "Don't @ Me" Podcast

Updated: Mar 21, 2019


Writer/director/Oscar winner/Miami movie machine Barry Jenkins broke into the indie film world with his 2008 debut film, Medicine for Melancholy.


With a grand total budget of $15,000 the feature pushed black faces further into the arthouse world.

Medicine for Melancholy (2008)

Unless you've been living under a rock the last two years (if so honestly kinda jealous) you know Barry's 2016 film Moonlight created the most shook worthy moment in Academy Awards history.


He also directed Chapter V, Episode I of Dear White People. Now, his third feature, If Beale Street Could Talk, is nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay for Jenkins, Best Supporting Actress for Regina King, and Best Original Score for Nicholas Britell.




1. Academy Award Winning Directors Struggled Too!

"I was super broke, I had just moved back to LA when Dear White People came out. I took the bus to the ArcLight to go and see Dear White People."


2. After Moonlight, Guys Worldwide Were Sliding Into His DMs

"My Instagram has consistently just been popping ever since the first screening."


3. Like Head First, Sliding

"I literally posted a photo today of me in a Peru soccer jersey and some guy was like 'Barry Jenkins lookin like a snack.'"


4. But Also, the Film Has Majorly Impacted Black Gay Men

"I've had men approach me and literally just fall into my arms, just shaking basically because for the first time they feel like they've been seen. And it's one thing for other people to see them for the first time, but for them to also see themselves."


5. After Medicine for Melancholy, He Struggled As An Artist

"I felt like it was a self fulfilling prophecy. Here's the truth, you made this little thing with your friends, and it meant a lot to some people, but that's it."


6. Yes, You Can Win an Oscar and Still Deal with Imposter Syndrome

"I have this fear of watching [Moonlight] and going– you know what? It's all bullshit. It's not a good film. Everybody's saying it's a good film, but it's not a good film. And if I don't watch it, I don't have to confront this idea that maybe it's not a good film."


7. George A. Romero Shaded Moonlight

"I'm a big Dawn of the Dead fan and literally like a month before he passed away, there was an interview with George A. Romero ... he was like 'La La Land was amazing, it was fantastic. That Moonlight– ugh. Awful."


8. Directing Dear White People Really Affected Him...

"That is the most emotional I've ever been on a set. That is the most emotional film set I've ever been on. And that includes Moonlight and Beale Street."


9. ... And Also Let Him Cut His Teeth With Comedy

"The first act of Beale Street is actually kind of funny and I think my time working on Dear White People helped me get more comfortable directing things of that tone."


10. An Ex-Girlfriend Told Him He Needs to Read James Baldwin

"I remember first being introduced to James Baldwin by and ex-girlfriend who broke up with me ... I was a young, dumb ass, immature, not-ready-for-this-woman man ... She said you need to read James Baldwin. Which was to me, 'you need develop yourself as a man. As a person. As a human being."


11. Audiences Have Had Some Black AF Reactions to Beale Street

"[Beale Street] is black as hell. We had a preview and I swear at a certain point a man stood up in the auditorium and just started snapping his fingers."


12. He Walked Out Off Michael Bay's 13 Hours

"There was a tall, gorgeous, 'physically attractive' blonde woman, who plays the CIA or military intelligence person. And yet, Michael Bay chooses to dress her in high heels, she's really ridiculous, she almost has no street smarts, no sense of awareness ... There's a moment 80 minutes into the film, where this huge firefight is raging and this woman, in a wide shot, is crossing the roof of this building, as people are shooting at everyone, and she takes this Busby Berkeley pratfall. In the middle of a war zone. And I literally stood up in the ArcLight and I said 'Are y'all gonna sit here and watch this shit?' Out loud. With my outside voice. And I walked out."


13. Best Movie Ever?

"In The Mood For Love is the best movie ever made."



For all these gems and about a million more, listen to Barry Jenkins full interview on Don't @ Me with Justin Simien.



2020