Actors Ashton Sanders, 21, and Jharrel Jerome, 19, who play teenage Chiron and Kevin in the film, won Best Kiss at the MTV Movie & TV Awards on Sunday for their intimate, powerful scene on the beach. The duo’s competition included actors from films “La La Land,” “Beauty and the Beast” and TV show “Empire.”
In their acceptance speech, Sanders and Jerome let the audience know that their same-sex kiss on the silver screen is important for all actors of color.
“On a real note, I think it is safe to say that it is OK for us young performers, especially us minority performers, to step out of the box. It’s OK for us to step out of the box and do whatever it takes to tell the story and whatever it takes to make the change,” Jerome said. “This award is for that. It’s for us artists who are out there, who need to do whatever it takes to get people to wake up.”
Sanders dedicated the award to those who may feel othered or cast out from mainstream narratives.
“This award is bigger than Jharrel and I,” he said. “This represents more than a kiss. This is for those who feel like the others, the misfits — this represents us.”
“Moonlight,” the poetic coming-of-age film about a black boy from Miami struggling with his sexual identity, has had a very successful award season. The film, created with a $1.5 million budget, took home the Academy Award for Best Picture in February. Before that, it won a Golden Globe for Best Drama, a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Acting Ensemble, a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film and an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Directing.
Watch Sanders and Jerome’s full speech below.