Winning Essay by Cornelius. T From Florida Attending Cornell
     Through his creativity and drive to have his artistic voice heard, Barry Jenkins brings the captivating story that depicts the struggles of the low-income African American daily life. His success story and Oscar winning film, “Moonlight” inspires me to pursue my aspirations as an artist and a designer. Seeing how just one film can encompass a story that is overlooked, and one that people live as a reality, and get so much national attention inspires me to tell stories through my art and design work and create a platform for discussion. He is living proof that one can use their artistic talents to bring awareness to issues that we face each day.
     His story especially inspired me, because he’s from the same city as me. I’ve seen the areas his work was filmed in and I know people that go through the same daily obstacles and experiences his characters went through. To see these things captured so beautifully and full of raw emotion really elevated the impact the film had on me. 
     Barry Jenkins was not afraid to show the world something different, something that the media typically never shows. His willingness to push that envelope inspires me to do the same. Much like him, I want the world to react to my work and be impacted by it. As an artist, especially from an African American background, it is comforting to see the representation that Jenkins stands for in the professional world of artists and creatives. I no longer have to live in the world my ancestors lived in where our stories weren’t told and voices weren’t heard. Seeing how Jenkins has brought interest to the topic of the “African American Experience” has allowed me to no longer feel vulnerable about my own story. I want the world to know what I believe in and what many other African Americans live like daily. 
     In my future career as an artist and designer, I want to have a voice for all the voices that are over looked and even muted. In times like these we need people who are going to speak up for others and bring awareness to the things that they believe. I now see more potential in my creative talents and realize that I can have in impact on the lives of others through them. 
     Although Barry Jenkins may not be as old as others that have made achievements in African American History, he will be in the books in the future. In the few months that his film “Moonlight” has been out, it has gained a lot of attention and impacted many individuals who can identify with the story line and the characters. I aspire to captivate the world with my artistic work, just as he has. I now see that I can have a powerful voice and I intend to have it heard.

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