Miss Juneteenth is much more than a film about a beauty pageant. Don’t sleep on this release, which is available starting this Friday. Miss Juneteenth is a well-written study of the dynamics between single mothers and their children in the African American community. The film truly centers on the spirit of these families. Whether we care to realize this or not, most single-parent African American households face tremendous financial hardships. Those communities are seemingly fighting an uphill battle that would wear out the most resilient individuals. Channing Godfrey Peoples wrote and directed a film that doesn’t provide any easy solutions but demonstrates how hope can get us through the darkest of times.
The film centers around the story of single mom Turquoise Jones (Nicole Beharie). She’s a single mom who has to run her home, keep track of her teenager, and hold down multiple shifts at Wayman’s BBQ and Lounge. Jones has a history in their small Texas town. Turquoise was once crowned Miss Juneteenth, which gave her a full ride to the college of her choice. However, she never ended up in college. Her life didn’t turn out nearly as she had planned. Jones is determined to right those wrongs for her daughter Kai (Kendrick Sampson) and push her to compete and become Miss Juneteenth. The problem is Kai has other dreams.
The chemistry between Beharie and Sampson is off the charts. Anyone watching will swear that they were a mother and daughter interacting. Peoples does a fabulous job of laying out the societal issues Jones and other African American families face. It’s easy to lay blame, but how can one do that when the opportunities in 99% of theses areas have all but dried up. It was enlightening. Beharie’s performance in Miss Juneteenth is dynamite. Many critics will be singing her praises long into what is now an extended award season.