BET's Movie of the Week, Miss Juneteenth, is about motherhood, regret, and what it really means to find your voice as a young black woman caught in the shadows of parental expectation. This critically acclaimed film premiered on Thanksgiving this week (November 26th) and tells the life of Turquoise Jones – a single mother who believes her greatest achievement is to be crowned Miss Juneteenth in her glory years.
Miss Juneteenth may not be as well known as other popular festival crowns, but it carries the spirit of millions of ancestors who were freed from American enslavement (albeit two years after the declaration of emancipation). Jones, played by actress Nicole Beharie (Sleepy Hollow, Black Mirror), insists that her own daughter will continue the legacy she started years ago by taking back the crown … even if she doesn't want to.
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The film, which is Channing Godfrey Peoples' directorial debut, explores the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters, but can avoid the stereotypes that these contradicting family dynamics can often overcome.
"As a girl who grew up in Texas, I marveled at the Miss Juneteenth annual winner sliding down the stage with hope on her face," Godfrey Peoples told ET. "Before I understood the importance of the pageant and its purpose of conveying pride and self-esteem to the women who were crowned its victor, I was intrigued by the pageant: its participants were young, hopeful African American women."
"Miss Juneteenth is a film about postponed dreams," she explains. "It is a great honor for me to be able to make this film about a woman who is the inheritance of these ancestors and who is desperately looking for a way to give her daughter a better future."
RELATED: Nicole Beharie is Miss Juneteenth
New York Times critic Lovia Gyarkey says, “The film covers a variety of topics in around 100 minutes, from the importance of Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, to the legacy of racism in predatory bank lending practices . Most impressive, however, is how much space people's black female characters take up in the narrative. "
Miss Juneteenth makes her debut on BET and BET Her on Thursday, November 26th at 8 p.m. EST / PST.