Culture

Moonlight Writer Tarell Alvin McCraney Is Writing a South Florida TV Series

Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney on the Oscars stage.
Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney on the Oscars stage. ABC/Eddy Chen
TV viewers will soon get to see South Florida in a whole new light. Tarell Alvin McCraney, the acclaimed playwright who penned the play that inspired the Oscar-winning film Moonlight, has been given the green light to create a TV series set in South Florida and inspired by his experiences growing up in Liberty City.

The minds behind the as-yet-untitled project are among some of the most acclaimed names in Hollywood. In addition to McCraney, who will create, write, and executive-produce the show, actor Michael B. Jordan of Creed and Fruitvale Station is an executive producer. Warner Horizon Scripted Television, the studio that fostered Ava DuVernay's series Queen Sugar, will back McCraney's series. And it'll air on OWN, the TV network run by Oprah Winfrey.

According to Deadline, the series will "explore the precarious balance needed for the making of a man." A 14-year-old main character, dealing with the death of a close friend and struggling to help his mother dig them both out of poverty, faces a choice: Commit to either "the streets that raised him or the higher education that may offer him a way out."

The news is an apt reward for one of the creators of the most talked-about film of last Oscars season. McCraney, along with Moonlight director Barry Jenkins, won the 2017 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay before a flubbed Best Picture announcement made history at the Oscars — and ultimately gave Moonlight both the coveted statue and an extrabright spotlight. (Jenkins is working on his own adaptation for the small screen, turning Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad into a series for Amazon.)
click to enlarge Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney on the Oscars stage. - ABC/EDDY CHEN
Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney on the Oscars stage.
ABC/Eddy Chen
McCraney grew up in Liberty City and attended New World School of the Arts before studying at Yale Drama School and the Royal Shakespeare Company. He soon became the city's best-known playwright through the success of shows such as his Brothers/Sisters Plays trilogy, which earned him the Outstanding Playwright Award form the New York Times. He staged productions across the world, including an "action-thriller version" of Hamlet, before teaming up with Jenkins to tell Moonlight's story of a boy growing into a man in Liberty City.


Moonlight was praised for telling a South Florida story no film had ever brought to the big screen before. There's no reason to expect McCraney's TV series will accomplish anything less.
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ciara LaVelle is New Times' former arts and culture editor. She earned her BS in journalism at Boston University and moved to Florida in 2004. She joined New Times' staff in 2011.
Contact: Ciara LaVelle