'Beale Street' Director Barry Jenkins Reacts to Awards Season Buzz After 'Moonlight' Oscars Flub (Exclusive)

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Could we see a repeat of the 2017 Oscars mix-up? While there's awards buzz surrounding both of directors Barry Jenkins and Damien Chazelle's new projects, Jenkins isn't thinking about the possibility of another snafu.

ET's Courtney Tezeno sat down with the director at the If Beale Street Could Talk junket in Los Angeles on Monday, where he opened up about what it's like to enter awards season again after the infamous Moonlight-La La Land Best Picture mistake at the 2017 Academy Awards. 

"I mean, the mix-up was one thing that was interesting and bizarre," Jenkins said. "I don't want to speak for Damien. He didn't make Beale Street and I didn't make First Man. If we had made the same film, then I'd feel like we were in competition or in a mix-up or something like that, but I think we're all just trying to tell stories, and they end up where they end up." 

If Beale Street Could Talk, based on the James Baldwin book of the same name, centers on a young African-American woman (KiKi Layne) who tries to clear the name of her wrongly-charged fiance (Stephan James) while carrying their first child. It was a story that really resonated with Jenkins, who said he feels just as connected to it as he did to Moonlight. 

"I don't have any kids, but if I did, I'd say, 'None of my kids is more special than the others.' So, I don't know that there's anything different about this film. To be brutally honest, we tried to approach it in a way where it wasn't different. We're just people trying to tell stories," he said. "[My upbringing] is pretty similar to the upbringing of these characters, but also the character in Moonlight as well. You know, I think I lived in a neighborhood and a community that was pretty wild, to be brutally honest. I grew up in the age of crack cocaine, so its very dark, to be even more honest. But, it was always love somewhere. There was a really strong sense of community."

"I've always been a big fan of Mr. Baldwin's work, and I love in this film, or this book, how so many different voices Mr. Baldwin speaks with were fused in the story. It's both a very passionate love story, but also systematic injustice," Jenkins shared. "I just love how the family unit unites around these two young lovers which, to me, when you read the book and hopefully when you watch the film, are soulmates which cuts through the idea of marriage and wedlock and all of those things."

If Beale Street Could Talk, also starring Regina King, hits theaters in Los Angeles and New York on Dec. 14, with an expanded release on Dec. 25. See more on the film in the video below. 

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