We’ve always said that The Bronx never stopped creating, we’ve been a force in the world of the arts regardless of what discipline and last night victory came to The Bronx by way of the film ‘Moonlight’ winning the Oscar for best movie.
And his name is Jharrel Jerome, the 19 year old actor and Bronxite who plays the younger adolescent Kevin, one of the leading characters in Moonlight, a movie chronicling the life a black, gay male, Chiron.
Vibe writes, in an interview with Jharrel Jerome:
A late-night spliff is passed between an adolescent Chiron and his only apparent friend Kevin (played by Jharrel Jerome), as the two engage in a dreamy exchange at the beach. By the time their high sets in – halfway reeling from the hard realities of living in the ghetto – Kevin pulls in for the kind of embrace Chiron has always yearned for but knew wasn’t culturally accepted. It’s the second stage of Barry Jenkins’ brilliantly tender film Moonlight, and Kevin – outwardly machista and cis hetero – is presented for the first time as someone queer or bisexual. In this space, neither one struggles with identity and both slip into more liberated versions of themselves—however fleeting. Kevin later emerges a complicated character, one who ultimately betrays Chiron to keep from being treated an outcast.
Jerome, who was raised in the Bronx and is of Dominican descent, initially grappled with connecting to his character. As someone not from Miami, and more, who identifies as “straight,” Jerome was tasked with finding other portals to Kevin’s heart. The nuance and duplicity of his on-screen persona, it turns out, is something the 19-year-old is far too acquainted with as a black Latino from the inner-city, coming up in a less familiar world of performing arts.
I realized that it was my job to fill Kevin’s shoes. I realized that I’m out here to tell a story for people who need to hear this story. —Jharrel
“I was that Latino kid in school. I grew up as the kid wearing the baggy pants and the hoodies. I was from the Bronx, you know, but speaking that Spanish dialect, and these people from Manhattan—they’ve never heard that before,” says Jerome, whose arrival at LaGuardia High School in the Upper West Side was initially met with a sense of displacement.
In the rest of the interview he discusses about some of the struggles of growing up in The Bronx and how his family was his bedrock that provided the nurture he needed to chase his dreams and not get caught up in the drama that is so easy to do in our borough.
What’s truly refreshing about Jerome is to see that despite his wanting to escape The Bronx, he’s constantly mentioning his roots on social media shouting out that he’s a proud Bronxite.
Well, we’re proud of you too, Jharrel, and we wish you nothing but the best and look forward to the day you receive your very own Oscar!