• Baylor alumna’s new film tells the story of ‘Miss Juneteenth’

    Channing Godfrey Peoples (left) and the "Miss Juneteenth" movie poster (right)

    As a child, Fort Worth native Channing Godfrey Peoples, BA ’99, was riveted by the annual Miss Juneteenth pageant. (The holiday is a celebration of when the message of the United States’ abolition of slavery finally reached Texas; today, it is celebrated today across the South.)

    Peoples — a Baylor theatre graduate who was named one of Filmmaker magazine’s “25 New Faces of Film” in 2018 — has turned that focus into her new film, Miss Juneteenth, which was shot in Fort Worth last year. A trailer for the film, which was both written and directed by Peoples, was released late last month:

    Miss Juneteenth richly captures the slow pace of ebbing small-town Texas life,” says Variety. “Writer-director Channing Godfrey Peoples’ first feature [has] a very relatable heroine in Nicole Beharie’s Turquoise, an erstwhile local beauty queen whose crown proved the peak rather than the kickoff to her dream of a better life — high hopes now transferred to a daughter reluctant to inherit that burden.”

    “Writer-director Channing Godfrey Peoples’ appealing debut is a tender drama that takes its cue from the central character, bringing humble grace to the struggle of this former pageant queen to project her own deferred dreams onto her teenage daughter,” adds The Hollywood Reporter.

    The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year as one of only 16 selections in the U.S. Dramatic Competition category that offers “a first look at groundbreaking new voices in American independent film.” Peoples participated in the Sundance Institute Screenwriters Intensive and Creative Producing Lab.

    “I grew up as a little girl going to this pageant every single year,” Peoples told the Houston Chronicle earlier this spring. “All I could remember was seeing all those beautiful African American women glide across the stage. And it’s just something that has never left me. It was my version of Miss America. They were who I aspired to be and grow up to be like. I always wondered when they stepped across that stage, what happened to those women?”

    See for yourself when Miss Juneteenth releases digitally on June 19, 2020 (with a possible theatrical release to follow). [UPDATE: The film is now available via iTunes, Amazon Video, and other streaming services.]

    Sic ’em, Channing!