Jharrel Jerome '19 Shines in Moonlight

On the morning of his birthday last October, Jharrel Jerome ’19, an acting major at Ithaca College, labored over his lines in a residence hall lounge before filming his audition. He was hoping to land his first role in a major motion picture. This past February the film, Moonlight, won the Academy Award for Best Picture. The New York Times asked whether it might be the year’s best movie and called Jerome’s performance excellent. The film also took home a Golden Globe for best drama motion picture.

Moonlight is a coming of age film about a young man named Chiron who is struggling with his sexual identity while growing up in Miami. Jerome’s role is that of Chiron’s friend, Kevin, who also struggles with his identity. The film, based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney, is broken into three parts, and Jerome plays Kevin in his teen years.

“When it came to that specific role, I knew it was going to be hard because I had read what the character came with, and he came with a lot of baggage,” said Jerome. “He came with a lot of identity crises and all that.”

Jerome attended Ithaca College’s theatre arts program because he wanted to study his passion away from the distractions that come with living in the city. He said he liked that the theatre program and campus are secluded, creating a very family-oriented atmosphere.

“It was a lot about just finding a place where I can be comfortable,” Jerome said. “I also think nature and the open space gives me a lot of time to get in tune with myself and connect with myself.”