Moonlight has been a breakout hit on the festival circuit this year, doing a number on the critics at Telluride, Toronto, and New York. It’s hardly a surprise then that writer/director Barry Jenkins should be so in demand now. And he’s already lining up his next projects, which include penning the screenplay for a film about real-life boxing sensation Claressa “T-Rex” Shields.
Shields was a 17-year-old boxer from Flint, Michigan who went on to become the first American female boxer to a win a gold medal at the Olympics, and the first American boxer period to win an Olympic title twice in a row.
Shields’s life has already been made into a documentary called T-Rex, from filmmakers Zackery Canepari and Drea Cooper, but this new film will be the first time that her story has received the feature film treatment. It seems like a shoe-in, however, given her trajectory and the story’s positioning as a coming-of-age story against all kinds of odds. Moonlight, of course, is completely a coming-of-age tale, but it will be interesting to see what Jenkins makes of a female-centric narrative this time around. Although right now he’s only attached to write the screenplay, there’s a good chance that he might direct as well. We can hope.
Jenkins is also set to work on a limited run series based on Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad, about a female slave just coming to womanhood who escapes on the Underground Railroad and kills one of her pursuers along the way. So it seems that he’s attracted to stories about young women as well as race, which will certainly prove interesting.
No word yet on the title of the new boxing film, as it’s very early days yet, but whatever Jenkins completes next, you can bet we’re all paying attention.