Channing Godfrey Peoples interview: ‘Miss Juneteenth’ writer-director
Channing Godfrey Peoples has released her feature directorial debut, “Miss Juneteenth,” to universal critical acclaim. The intimate film, which she also wrote, tells the story of Turquoise Jones (Nicole Beharie), a former pageant queen living in Fort Worth, Texas who pushes her daughter to compete in the same pageant she won as a teen. The film is a personal one for Peoples, who grew up in a historically Black community in Fort Worth. “It’s like laying your soul bare for the world to see,” says Peoples in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. Watch the video interview above.
It took seven years to get “Miss Juneteenth” made, and Peoples credits the locals of Fort Worth for supporting her through that journey. “I wanted to write about this particular community and I also wanted to write about a Black woman in particular who is navigating her own dream deferred,” explains the writer-director. When we meet Turquoise, she is working part-time at a bar and a mortuary as she struggles to make ends meet raising her daughter, Kai (Alexis Chikaeze). Peoples based Turquoise on the women in her family. “They had a grit, a determination but they also carried themselves with grace no matter how much their feet were put to the fire.”
“Miss Juneteenth” debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last January, which meant a lot to Peoples. She and her husband/creative collaborator Neil Creque Williams, a producer on the film, had previously gone through Sundance intensives in the years prior to the film’s premiere last year. “It was both joyful and there were nerves involved but I think I was most concerned with making sure that I had portrayed the community as respectfully as possible,” recalls Peoples.