'Moonlight' Director Jenkins Says Oscar 'Nominations This Year Reflect the World I Live In'

A very diverse class comes a year after #OscarsSoWhite.

ByMichael Rothman, Emily Shapiro and Catherine Mckenzie
January 24, 2017, 10:29 AM

— -- With "Moonlight," "Hidden Figures," "Fences" and more cleaning up today in the announcement of 2017 Oscar nominations, a lot has changed a year after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

"Moonlight" director Barry Jenkins spoke to ABC News right after his film earned eight nods, including best picture, best directing, best supporting actor and best supporting actress.

Though he hasn't yet turned on his phone since he just landed in Amsterdam promoting the film (his rep slipped notes under the door to let him know who had been nominated), Jenkins said earning nominations in so many categories "just means someone else who was may be on the fence about watching [the film] or heard about it is more likely now to go see it."

Jenkins has been busy spreading the word of his film in France, Germany and "trying to push the movie to as many cultures as possible."

The film, starring the likes of Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris, who both earned nods this morning, is a coming of age story, which "chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami," according to the official synopsis.

Jenkins gives the academy credit for recognizing a film like "Moonlight" this year after last year's lack of diversity among the nominees. No actor of color was nominated last year.

"If I'm walking down the streets of Los Angeles, the nominations this year reflect the world I live in," he told ABC News, but he was also fair to the Oscars. "Now, the only way to compare it is if you had these same films last year and they didn't get the nominations, but going forward, I think [Motion Picture Academy President] Cheryl Boone Isaacs is doing a great job ... We'll need more data to see if real change has come."

Jenkins does plan to turn his phone on later today and call the rest of the cast. Then, he'll finally celebrate.

"I imagine once I turn my phone, on it's going to explode. So I'm keeping it off, 'cause there's work to be done," he said. "I'll have a glass of Champagne ... then I will call everybody."

Related Topics

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events