"Moonlight" success gives inner city Miami kids another reason to hope

Kamal Ani-Bello, Amanda Ali and Larry Anderson attend Miami Northwestern High -- the same school the movie’s director, Barry Jenkins, attended

CBS Evening News

MIAMI -- The top prize on Sunday night -- best picture -- went to the African-American coming-of-age movie “Moonlight.” It is a story rooted in Miami, and the success of the film is giving some inner city kids another reason to hope. 

“Moonlight” follows the life of Chiron, a young black man who struggles with his sexuality, a drug-addicted mother and the tough streets of Miami’s Liberty City -- the streets these kids call home.

Kamal Ani-Bello, Amanda Ali and Larry Anderson attend Miami Northwestern High -- the same school the movie’s director, Barry Jenkins, attended. All three were also cast in the film, and indicated that they were shocked -- in a good way -- that the film won best picture.

Anderson was one of the bullies in a pivotal scene. 

“When you come to Miami you think of South Beach, you think of the cars, but you don’t really see the real people inside Miami like Liberty City,” said Anderson. 

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Kamal Ani-Bello, Amanda Ali and Larry Anderson attend Miami Northwestern High -- the same school the movie’s director, Barry Jenkins, attended. 

CBS Evening News

Tarell Alvin McCraney based the script on his experiences also growing up here. He’s returned since the film’s success to speak with aspiring actors and writers.

Last night, both men paid tribute to their roots.

“This goes out to all those black and brown boys and girls and non-gender conforming who don’t see themselves,” McCraney said. “We are trying to show you you and us.” 

Natalie Baldie is the artistic director of Northwestern High’s performing arts program.

“What does this represent for those students?” CBS News asked. 

“They can actually see past the violence and the guns, and start believing in their gifts,” she said.          

Now, they see clear to Hollywood, all the way from Miami.

“I can actually have the chance of winning my own Oscar,” said Anderson.

And a belief that they, too, can reach the same heights.