Turquoise Jones is a single mom who holds down a household, a rebellious teenager, and pretty much everything that goes down at Wayman’s BBQ & Lounge. Turquoise is also a bona fide beauty queen—she was once crowned Miss Juneteenth, a title commemorating the day slavery was abolished in Texas, USA.
Although her life didn’t take the turn expected with the Miss Juneteenth recognition, Turquoise (Nicole Beharie) wants the best for her daughter, Kai (Alexis Chikaeze): the same Miss Juneteenth accolade and scholarship to a historically black college. She works extra shifts and another job as cosmetician at the local funeral home, to earn the money to enter Kai into the competition and buy her a showstopper frock to grace the stage of the local church hall.
Kai is clearly not interested and instead, harbours her own desire to join a dance troupe at school and enter the eisteddfod. She’s surged on by her boyfriend, whose ulterior motives always come under scrutiny by Turquoise whenever he’s around. But she has little to fear; while Kai is rebellious, she doesn’t appear to want to stray too far from her mother’s good grace.
Turquoise leans on ex-partner Ronnie (Kendrick Sampson), Kai’s father, to cough up his late support payments. This on-again, off-again relationship with Ronnie weighs Turquoise down, but she carries on out of loyalty. There’s more fruitful potential shown by the boss of the funeral home, Bacon (Akron Watson) but it never gets off the ground.
Director Channing Godfrey Peoples has created a film that draws us deep into a honey-bourbon South that is rich with heat, sincerity, and thick, Texan charm.
Miss Juneteenth is a soulful journey of a determined woman who takes on the burden of representing history, and generations of black women, while standing tall despite her own shortcomings as she marches, step by step, toward self-realization.
After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January, Miss Juneteenth won the Louis Black Lone Star Award for Best Texan Film at South by Southwest this year.
Miss Juneteenth is now screening nationally, except Victoria. Check your local guides for screening times.
About Miss Juneteenth
Written and directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples
Stars: Starring Nicole Beharie, Kendrick Sampson, Alexis Chikaeze