La La Land didn’t steal the show like everyone expected on Sunday night’s Academy Awards. It was Moonlight, an indie film based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, that took the coveted Best Picture award. But the Oscar win isn’t what has people buzzing. No, it’s the fact that five FSU Alumni just helped Moonlight win Best Picture at the frickin’ Academy Awards. And because FSU Alumni should always be praised for their accomplishments, let’s take a look into who these extraordinary ‘Noles are.
Barry Jenkins. Class of 2003, Director/Writer
Taking home the award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Moonlight, FSU has a lot to be proud of when it comes to Barry Jenkins. Born in Miami, he is a true Floridian. Jenkins was the director of 5 short films before he directed Moonlight. He also wrote and directed the feature length movie Medicine for Melancholy. He is also set to direct the upcoming movie A Contract With God.
Adele Romanski. Class of 2004, Producer
As the producer for Moonlight, Romanski was instrumental in getting the film made. She helped Jenkins with concepts, locations and casting. She is also married to FSU Film School Alum James Laxton. Recently, Romanski became the executive producer for the second season of The Girlfriend Experience. With Moonlight, she has become the winner of a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama, a British Independent Film Award for Best Foreign Independent Film, and, of course, an Academy Award for Best Picture.
James Laxton. Class of 2003, Cinematographer
While he may not have won an Oscar for his amazing cinematography in Moonlight, he did win an Independent Spirit Award. His other works include Camp X-Ray and many of Barry Jenkins’s films both short and feature length. Laxton’s mom is costume designer Aggie Guerard Rodgers and he’s married to the producer of Moonlight, Adele Romanski.
Nat Sanders. Class of 2002, Editor
Sanders’ work includes 9 episodes of the TV show Girls and the movie Short Term 12. Sanders has edited a number of other films including Humpday and The Freebie. For Moonlight he won an Independent Spirit Award for editing along with his co-editor Joi McMillion. One of his first jobs was as an editor for The Biggest Loser, a job of which Barry Jenkins “saved” him from when making Medicine for Melancholy.
Joi McMillion. Class of 2003, Editor
McMillioin broke a glass ceiling when she was nominated. She was the first African-American woman to ever be nominated for an Oscar in film editing. Alongside her classmate and colleague Nat Sanders, McMillion pieced together what the audience saw on screen. Her other credits include Sausage Party and Madea’s Witness Protection Program. For Moonlight she also shares the Indiewire Critic’s Poll Award for Editing with Nat Sanders.
In short, don’t forget about the friends you make in college—they could win an Academy Award.