It's the little indie that could. In 2016, writer/director Barry Jenkins' sophomore feature, Moonlight, proved to be an incredible success, grossing over $65 million from its $4 million (or less) budget and earning a wealth of acclaim. Widely considered one of the best films of the early 21st century, this coming-of-age drama, based on Tarell Alvin McCraney's unpublished semi-autobiographical play, In Moonlight Black Men Look Blue, became a powerful examination of race, sexuality, and identity as seen through three life stages of its main character, Chiron. Shortly after its acclaimed release, the movie won three Oscars for Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture.
While the highly unorthodox way it won Best Picture is often remarked upon, Moonlight became the first LGBT-related movie and the first film with an all-Black cast to be awarded the top prize at the Academy Awards, among other triumphs. Now that it's been nearly half a decade since its outstanding debut (if you can believe it), what is the Moonlight cast, including Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes, Naomie Harris, Janelle Monae, Jharrel Jerome, and Mahershala Ali, doing now? Let's take a look and find out!
Ashton Sanders (Teen Chiron)
In the role of teenage Chiron, Ashton Sanders plays our main character throughout the middle section of A24's Moonlight. Prior to starring in this Best Picture winner, Sanders frontlined The Retrieval. He was also seen in Straight Outta Compton. Following his lead performance in Moonlight, Sanders starred in The Equalizer 2, HBO's Native Son, Dead Women Walking, and Captive State. He also appeared in short films like 2012's Making Possibilities and 2016's We Home and The Last Virgin in LA, as well as Chloe x Halle's "The Kids Are Alright" music video. Additionally, on Hulu, Sanders played The RZA in Wu-Tang: An American Saga. Furthermore, the actor guest-starred in The Skinny.
Most recently, Ashton Sanders appeared in February's Judas and the Black Messiah. Also, he starred in Netflix's All Day and a Night. Next, Sanders stars in The Things They Carried. Additionally, the actor will produce and headline A More Unbending Battle.
Trevante Rhodes (Adult Chiron/Black)
Playing the part of Adult Chiron, who's often referred to as "Black," Trevante Rhodes found his star-making role in Barry Jenkins' Best Picture-winning drama, Moonlight. His other film credits include Bird Box, The Predator, 12 Strong, Lady Luck, Smartass, Song to Song, The Night Is Young, Burning Sands, Shangri-Li Suite, and Open Windows.
Additionally, on TV, Trevante Rhodes played a recurring role in OWN's If Loving You Is Wrong, and he appeared in Westworld, Gang Related, and Jay Z feat. Beyonce's "Family Feud" music video. Prior to acting, he was an accomplished track and field sprinter, winning a gold medal at 2009's Pan American Junior Athletics Championships. Last month, Rhodes starred in Hulu's dramatic biopic, The United States vs. Billie Holiday.
Alex Hibbert (Child Chiron/Little)
As Child Chiron, also known as "Little," our adolescent protagonist in the first chapter of this acclaimed coming-of-age drama, Alex Hibbert made his screen acting debut in Barry Jenkins' Moonlight. Following this exceptional performance, Hibbert was seen in Marvel's Black Panther. Currently, the actor stars in Showtime's drama series, The Chi.
Mahershala Ali (Juan)
In the role of Juan, a drug dealer who becomes a father figure for Chiron, Mahershala Ali won an Oscar for his outstanding supporting turn in A24's Moonlight. Only two years later, Ali won his second Oscar for his performance in Green Book. His other notable film and TV credits include House of Cards, Luke Cage, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 and 2, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Hidden Figures, Crossing Jordan, The 4400, Predators, The Place Beyond the Pines, Free State of Jones, Roxanne Roxanne, Crossing Over, Go for Sisters, Supremacy, Kicks, Treme, Alphas, Threat Matrix, Room 104, NYPD Blue, CSI, Law & Order: SVU, and Alita: Battle Angel. Additionally, Ali starred in True Detective Season 3. He also played a supporting role in Ramy Season 2.
Next, Mahershala Ali will be heard in Amazon Prime's Invincible. Soon, the actor will be seen in Swan Song, which he also produced. Also, Ali will play Blade in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a still-developing project.
Jharrel Jerome (Teen Kevin)
As a teen version of Kevin, who shares an intimate relationship with our lead character in the midst of his formative years, Jharrel Jerome plays our second lead in a pivotal part of Moonlight. Most notably, Jerome is an Emmy-winner for his performance in Netflix's When They See Us. The actor also played a main role in Audience's Mr. Mercedes. Jerome's other TV credits include Tales and Live in Front of a Studio Audience. In film, he can be seen in All Rise and First Match. Additionally, the actor starred in short films like 2019's Robu and 2016's Her Coloring Book, while also serving as a narrator for 2016's Wheels. Away from acting, Jerome is a musician as well.
Most recently, Jharrel Jerome was seen in Amazon Prime's Selah and the Spades. Next, Jerome will be seen in Netflix's Concrete Cowboy, which premiered at last year's TIFF.
Andre Holland (Adult Kevin)
Playing the part of Adult Kevin, Chiron's childhood friend who gets reacquainted with our lead during an intimate night, Andre Holland played a romantic character in the third act of Barry Jenkins' Moonlight. Most notably, Holland received a wealth of acclaim for his excellent lead role in Cinemax's The Knick. He was also seen in FX's American Horror Story: Roanoke. His other TV credits include 1600 Penn, Friends with Benefits, Law & Order, Damages, and Burn Notice. Additionally, Holland starred in Hulu's Castle Rock. Away from TV, Holland frontlined Netflix's High Flying Bird. He also appeared in Selma, 42, A Wrinkle in Time, Miracle at St. Anna, Small Beautiful Moving Parts, and Black or White. Additionally, the actor starred in Battle At Big Rock, a short film in the Jurrasic Park franchise. Elsewhere, Holland led 2017's Broadway production of Jitney.
Most recently, Andre Holland starred in Netflix's limited series, The Eddy. Next, the actor will be seen in Netflix's Passing, which premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
Jaden Piner (Child Kevin)
As Child Kevin, Chiron's nine-year-old best friend, Jaden Piner made his acting debut in Barry Jenkins' Moonlight. Following his supporting turn in this acclaimed award-winner, the child actor starred in 2018's dramatic horror-mystery, Boo! Next, Piner will be seen in Feral State, which premiered at the Orlando Film Festival. It'll be released this May.
Naomie Harris (Paula)
In the role of Paula, Chiron's abusive, crack-addicted mother, Naomie Harris was Oscar-nominated for her ferocious supporting turn in Moonlight. Harris is also known for Skyfall, Spectre, 28 Days Later, and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Her other film credits include Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Southpaw, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Rampage (2018), Collateral Beauty, Miami Vice (2006), Street Kings, After the Sunset, Trauma, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, Explicit Ills, Ninja Assassin, August, The Last Five Girlfriends, Our Kind of Traitor, and The First Grader. Also, Harris starred in Black and Blue and she was heard in Netflix's Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle.
Additionally, Naomie Harris' television credits include Runaway Bay, The Tomorrow People, Simon and the Witch, and White Teeth. The actress also appeared in 2009's TV film, Small Island. Most recently, Harris starred in HBO's The Third Day. Next, the Academy Award-nominated actress will be seen in No Time to Die, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and Swan Song.
Janelle Monae (Teresa)
Playing the part of Teresa, Juan's girlfriend and Chiron's caring mother figure, Janelle Monae was a protective supporting character in A24's Moonlight. An eight-time Grammy-nominated musician, Monae is a best-selling artist with three acclaimed albums to her very famous name: 2010's The ArchAndroid, 2013's The Electric Lady, and, most notably, 2018's Dirty Computer, which was nominated for Album of the Year. Also, as an actress, she's known for her work in Hidden Figures, Welcome to Marwen, and Harriet. Additionally, the musician can be heard in Rio 2, UglyDolls, and Disney+'s Lady and the Tramp. Meanwhile, on TV, Monae can be seen in Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams and Sesame Street, and she can be heard in American Dad!
Most recently, Janelle Monae starred in Antebellum and The Glorias. Also, the actress/musician starred in the second season of Amazon Prime's Homecoming.
Patrick Decile (Terrel)
As Terrel, a school bully, Patrick Decile played an antagonistic character in the middle of Moonlight. He also made his acting debut in Barry Jenkins' masterpiece. Following this standout performance, Decile appeared in a number of short films, including 2017's 78 on 79th, 2019's Broken Branches and Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul, and 2019's Not Black Enough, respectively. Next, he'll star in the crime drama, We Were Young, which has been in development since 2018. Outside of acting, Decile is a poet and musician.
Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.
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