Miss Juneteenth’s brilliance is in its subtlety. It’s a simple story about what is truly important in life and, like its title, parallels our slavery to life itself. As Turquoise, Nicole Beharie is the star. She’s a loving mother who refuses to let anything get in the way of a better life for her daughter. She works herself to the bone and demands daughter Kai to make smart decisions in life. She’s protective to a fault and will sacrifice everything for that future.
As Kai, Alexis Chikaeze is just as much a star as Beharie. She’s a typical teenager, who accepts living out her mother’s dreams, but does so on her own terms. At times, she’s dragged around by mom to her father’s home and her grandmother’s but soon finds herself wanting to make her own decisions about her future.
“It’s a simple story about what is truly important in life and, like its title, parallels our slavery to life itself.”
As a film, Miss Juneteenth reeks of authenticity. Writer/director Peoples knows and understands the world where her story takes place. The Miss Juneteenth pageant is real and its winners have gone on to do great things for their community and country. We respectfully understand its mission and purpose. We understand why winning this pageant can change a young woman’s life.
Not only are we brought into the world of beauty pageants, but also the world of African-Americans living in Texas (Fort Worth to be specific) and their attachment to Juneteenth as a state holiday versus July 4th.
Miss Juneteenth is a beautiful story of family as well as an inspiring one of hope. You’ll love it for its authenticity and also in Channing Godfrey Peoples’ ability to tell a story and create captivating and compelling characters.
Miss Juneteenth premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
"…director Peoples knows and understands the world where her story takes place."