Hundreds attended the celebration event honoring Liberty City’s own, Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, creators of the award-winning film Moonlight, and the movie’s cast, crew and producers at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center (AHCAC) on Saturday, April 22, 2017.
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson brought her impressive 5000 Role Models on stage as she read the entry into the U.S. congressional record honoring Moonlight and its creators. Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez and Vice Chairwoman Audrey M. Edmonson lead the crowd from the Outdoor Stage Presentation to a surprise unveiling of the actual Moonlight street sign in its now permanent location — the NW 22nd Ave side of the Center. There, Moonlight cast member Sharif Earp commented that kids will see the sign and instead of picking up a gun, they will know that they can pick up a camera or book and go the Moonlight Way.
During the Outdoor Stage Presentation Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney jointly presented ceremonial checks to youth on stage in the amount of a $40k donation for the purpose of starting a cinematic arts program at the AHCAC. McCraney, an alumnus of the Center, thanked its director, Marshall L. Davis, Sr. for finding the funds that gave him access to center programs as a child from an impoverished home.
The audience was captivated by the spectacular on-stage performances by talent from Entourage, the Center’s Apprenticeship Program that offers a unique stage and music concert experience for aspiring vocalists. Wesley Wray, a dynamic young troupe member, had the audience on their feet for both performances: “A Change Gonna Come” and “Rise Up.” Zipporah Hayes, instructor and performer, showcased her talent and expertise in a spirited and heartfelt rendition of Georgia. Entourage presents their annual showcase at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center on Saturday, April 29th at 7pm. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students with an ID! Call 305.638.6771. All proceeds benefit The African Heritage Cultural Arts Theater.
Before the movie showing, Barry and Tarell participated in the Q&A in the theater, facilitated by Jill Tracey of HOT 105. The cast members told endearing stories about how they were cast for the movie. Sharif Earp shared that he was only able to audition because he lived close enough to walk to the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center – that changed his life profoundly. Jaden Piner is an AHCAC alumnus and Tanisha Cidel was hired straight from college by Marshall Davis to teach at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center.
The African Heritage Cultural Arts Center was one of the locations featured in “Moonlight” and served as a local venue for the film, largely due to Tarell Alvin McCraney’s influence. Brad Pitt visited the Center for the filming of the scenes in the facility’s dance studio, music hall entrance and a classroom. Auditions were held in the Center’s theater and some of the actors affiliated with the Center were cast. The Center and its director, Marshall Davis, a mentor to McCraney, are listed in the movie credits.
The African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, managed by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, has a long-standing reputation of providing high caliber art instruction. Students, ages 5 – 16 years old, receive professional instruction in music, dance, drama, and visual arts within a creative and secure environment after school, Saturdays, spring, winter and summer breaks. Distinguished alumni of the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center include Tarell Alvin McCraney, Executive Producer of Moonlight – the 2017 Academy Award-winning Best Picture; Robert Battle, Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Bianca Brewton, a professional dancer with the production companies of Janet Jackson and Beyoncé; Shareef Clayton, a Jazz trumpeter, who studied with Arturo Sandoval and performed with Stevie Wonder; and tap dancer Marshall Davis, Jr., associate choreographer of the Tony nominated play, Shuffle Along.
Enrollment is open After School, Saturday and the Summer Arts Conservatory. For more information about the Center and its programs, call 305-638-6771 during business hours Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. or visit www.ahcacmiami.org.
It is the policy of Miami-Dade County to comply with all of the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. To request materials in accessible format, sign language interpreters, and/or any accommodation to participate in any Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs program or meeting, please contact Francine Andersen at 305-375-4634 firstname.lastname@example.org at least five days in advance to initiate your request. TTY users may also call 711 (Florida Relay Service).Follow us on social media @MiamiDadeArts and @ahcacmiami and #AHCAC.