With the 89th annual Academy Awards fast approaching, a South Florida native is making his way to Los Angeles for Sunday's big night.
Norland Middle School student Alex Hibbert, who plays Chiron in “Moonlight," says he's ready to make the trip from Miami to the City of Angels.
The film tells a story about Chiron's journey as a black, gay man living in Liberty City being raised by a mother with a drug addiction.
In contrast to his character's struggles with race, class and sexual identity in the film, the 12-years-old Hibbert says he has no worries, and his plans for Sunday night are to "chill out, have fun, and pray," he said in an interview with NBC Miami.
Hibbert's classmate, Jaden Piner, plays his close friend in the movie — and in real life. "Yeah, that's like my best friend," Hibbert said.
“Moonlight” is nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Hibbert said he never acted in a film prior to this. "I got the audition from school, and I thought it was this little movie," he said. "But it turned out to be so big, and it's just amazing."
Hibbert is currently preparing for his new role in an upcoming television show. Whether “Moonlight” takes home an Oscar or not, he said this unexpected journey is just getting started.
"My teacher always told me to have discipline," he said. "So I'm going to have a lot, a lot of discipline over there. Be very, very quiet, a little bit, but if we win, we gotta get a little crazy."
The rising star also said he hopes to run into another Oscar nominee this weekend: Denzel Washington.
As Hibbert continues to take on his big screen ambitions, he has a message for everyone back home: "My message to everyone here in Miami is stay humble and keep working hard, because you can get somewhere in life if you just keep working hard."
Director Barry Jenkins, and the playwright of which the film is based on, Tarell Alvin McCraney, are also Miami natives.
Both of them attended Miami Northwestern Senior High School together, but they didn't know each other until Jenkins came across McCraney's play, Jenkins said in the film's commentary.
"Moonlight" is also nominated for Best Director and Best Writing Adapted Screenplay, among others.