Miss Juneteenth is a 2020 American drama film written and directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples and starring Nicole Beharie, Kendrick Sampson, and Alexis Chikaeze. The plot follows a single mom and former teen beauty queen who enters her daughter into the local Miss Juneteenth pageant. The film premiered at Sundance in January 2020, and was released via video on demand on June 19, 2020, coinciding with the 155th anniversary of the historically Black holiday which originated in the south eastern United States.

Miss Juneteenth
Nicole Beharie as Turquoise Jones sits on a stoop wearing a red sleeveless dress, cowboy boots, hoop earrings, and a tiara atop her head.
Official promotional poster
Directed byChanning Godfrey Peoples
Written byChanning Godfrey Peoples
Produced by
  • Neil Creque Williams
  • Jeanie Igoe
  • James M. Johnston
  • Toby Halbrooks
  • Tim Headington
  • Theresa Page
CinematographyDaniel Patterson
Edited byCourtney Ware
Music byEmily Rice
Distributed byVertical Entertainment
Release dates
  • January 24, 2020 (2020-01-24) (Sundance)
  • June 19, 2020 (2020-06-19) (United States)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$700,000–2.5 million[1]
Box office$105,908[2]

The film received critical acclaim. It received accolades from South by Southwest, the BlackStar Film Festival, and the National Board of Review. For the role, Nicole Beharie received a Gotham Award for Best Actress.[3][4][5][6]



Turquoise Jones (Nicole Beharie), is a single mother in a suburb of Fort Worth, Texas. She is the former winner of the local Miss Juneteenth pageant which offers full scholarship to a historically black college. She enters her 15-year-old daughter, Kai (Alexis Chikaeze) in the same pageant despite her daughter's obvious lack of enthusiasm.

While other former Miss Juneteenth winners have gone on to have successful careers, Turquoise's education was derailed by the birth of Kai, which forced her to drop out of college and for a time to work as a stripper. To make ends meet she currently works at a bar and part time as a beautician at a mortuary where the owner is romantically interested in her. However, Turquoise is still in love with Kai's father Ronnie, and the two continue sleeping together despite officially being separated.

Kai struggles with her preparations for the Miss Juneteenth pageant, wanting to pursue dance instead. When her father fails to come through with the money for her pageant dress, she is forced to compete in her mother's old gown.

The Miss Juneteenth pageant goes forward. To Turquoise's surprise, for the talent portion Kai performs Maya Angelou's Phenomenal Woman, the poem that Turquoise performed herself and had been pushing Kai to perform, except set to dance. Turquoise is proud of Kai's performance, but nevertheless Kai fails to even place in the pageant.

After the owner of the bar where she works suffers heart problems, he lets Turquoise know that he must sell the bar. She gives him a counter-proposal, offering to slowly buy out his business. He accepts and Turquoise begins her new life as a businesswoman.


  • Nicole Beharie as Turquoise Jones[6]
  • Kendrick Sampson as Ronnie[6]
  • Alexis Chikaeze as Kai Jones[6]
  • Liz Mikel as Betty Ray[6]
  • Marcus Mauldin as Wayman
  • Jaime Matthis as Quantavious
  • Lori Hayes as Charlotte
  • Akron Watson as Bacon
  • Phyllis Cicero as Mrs. Washington
  • Lisha Hackney as Clarissa



Miss Juneteenth is director Channing Godfrey Peoples' first feature film.[7] She was raised celebrating Juneteenth and attending Miss Juneteenth pageants.[7]

The film marked the return of Nicole Beharie in a starring role, who appeared in few productions after her abrupt departure from Fox series Sleepy Hollow.[8] Beharie discussed being blacklisted after requesting accommodations for an autoimmune disease she developed during the production of the show.[8]

The director of photography was Daniel Patterson, the production designer was Olivia Peebles, and Rachel Dainer-Best was the costume designer.[3] Filming took place during July and August 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas.[1]



Miss Juneteenth premiered at 2020 Sundance in the U.S. Dramatic Competition.[9]

Vertical Entertainment acquired distribution rights to the film in April 2020 and released it digitally on the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, June 19, 2020.[10][11]



Box office


The film made $20,946 from six theaters in its opening weekend (an average of $3,491 per venue), finishing sixth among reported films.[12]

Critical response


On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 99% based on 144 reviews, with an average rating of 7.6/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Like a pageant winner walking across the stage, Miss Juneteenth follows a familiar path – but does so with charm and grace."[4] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 73 out of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[13]

Writing for The New York Times, Lovia Gyarkye praised the film's abundant themes: "The movie tackles multitudinous themes in its roughly 100 minutes, from the significance of Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, to the legacy of racism in predatory bank lending practices. But what’s most impressive is the amount of space Peoples’s black female characters inhabit in the narrative."[14] Angelica Jade Bastién, writing in Vulture, further praised the film's content: "Miss Juneteenth isn't trying to make grand proclamations about what it means to be Black in America today. The film is too smart for such grandstanding. Instead, it revels in watching Black folks just be."[15]

In a review for Variety, Dennis Harvey applauded the film's "basic authenticity that will ring true for many viewers unaccustomed to seeing themselves onscreen" but also noted that the storytelling was "rewarding if somewhat predictable", and could use editing to improve "its sometimes too-leisurely tempo a bit."[3] David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter wrote positively of the depiction of the mother and daughter: "Whenever Peoples returns her gaze to the intimate bond between Turquoise and Kai, with the push and pull of their relationship, its challenges and rewards, played out with exquisite understatement by Beharie and Chikaeze, this becomes a satisfying portrait of hope and resilience."[6]

Television adaptation


On January 11, 2021 it was announced that NBCUniversal signed a first-look deal with director Channing Godfrey Peoples, and that will include her developing a television adaptation of Miss Juneteenth.[16]

Awards and nominations

Award Date of Ceremony Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Gotham Awards January 11, 2021 Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award Channing Godfrey Peoples Nominated [5]
Best Actress Nicole Beharie Won
South by Southwest 2020 Louis Black “Lone Star” Award Channing Godfrey Peoples Won [10]
BlackStar Film Festival August 26, 2020 Best Narrative Feature Channing Godfrey Peoples Won [17]
Independent Spirit Awards April 22, 2021 Best First Feature Channing Godfrey Peoples Nominated [18]
Best First Screenplay Channing Godfrey Peoples Nominated
Best Female Lead Nicole Beharie Nominated
Best Supporting Female Alexis Chikaeze Nominated
National Board of Review January 26, 2021 Top Ten Independent Films Miss Juneteenth Won [19]
Best Directorial Debut Channing Godfrey Peoples Won
Satellite Awards February 15, 2021 Best First Feature Channing Godfrey Peoples Won [20]
Best Motion Picture - Drama Miss Juneteenth Nominated
Black Reel Awards April 11, 2021 Outstanding Director Channing Godfrey Peoples Nominated [21]
Outstanding Actress Nicole Beharie Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress Alexis Chikaeze Nominated
Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Female Alexis Chikaeze Nominated
Outstanding Ensemble Tisha Blood, Chelsea Ellis Bloch, Matthew West Taylor Nominated
Outstanding Independent Film Channing Godfrey Peoples Nominated
Outstanding Emerging Director Channing Godfrey Peoples Nominated
Outstanding First Screenplay Channing Godfrey Peoples Nominated
Austin Film Critics Association March 19, 2021 Best Actress Nicole Beharie Nominated [22]
Best First Film Miss Juneteenth Nominated
NAACP Image Awards March 27, 2021 Outstanding Independent Motion Picture Miss Juneteenth Nominated [23]


  1. ^ a b "Low Budget Film Casting Notice" (The SAG Low Budget Agreement applies to films with budgets between $700,000 and $2,500,000). SAG-AFTRA. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  2. ^ "Miss Juneteenth (2020)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Harvey, Dennis (2020-01-25). "'Miss Juneteenth': Film Review". Variety. Retrieved 2020-06-19.
  4. ^ a b "Miss Juneteenth (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  5. ^ a b "See the full list of 2021 Gotham Awards winners (updating live)". EW.com. Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Rooney, David (25 January 2020). "'Miss Juneteenth': Film Review | Sundance 2020". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2020-06-19.
  7. ^ a b N'Duka, Amanda (2020-01-25). "'Miss Juneteenth' Tells A Story Of Two Women "Who Come Into Their Own In A Different Way" – Sundance Studio". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-01-26.
  8. ^ a b Frederick, Candice (2020-06-19). "Nicole Beharie on 'Miss Juneteenth' and the Danger of Labels". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  9. ^ Tallerico, Brian. "Sundance 2020: Bad Hair, Miss Juneteenth | Sundance | Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com. Retrieved 2020-01-26.
  10. ^ a b Hipes, Patrick (2020-04-14). "Sundance Pic 'Miss Juneteenth' To Hit Screens In June With Vertical Entertainment Deal". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  11. ^ "A Former Beauty Queen Returns in 'Miss Juneteenth' Trailer (Exclusive)". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  12. ^ "Domestic 2020 Weekend 25 - June 19-21". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  13. ^ "Miss Juneteenth Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved January 2, 2021.
  14. ^ Gyarkye, Lovia (2020-06-18). "'Miss Juneteenth' Review: Celebrating Black Girlhood". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-19.
  15. ^ Bastién, Angelica Jade (2020-06-19). "Miss Juneteenth Is a Gently Beautiful Film Worth Celebrating". Vulture. Retrieved 2020-06-19.
  16. ^ Mangum, Trey (2021-01-11). "'Miss Juneteenth' TV Adaptation In The Works As Channing Godfrey Peoples Signs Deal With NBCU's UCP". Shadow and Act. Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  17. ^ Vlessing, Etan (2020-08-27). "BlackStar Film Festival Names 'Miss Juneteenth' Best Narrative Feature | Hollywood Reporter". www.hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved 2020-10-01.
  18. ^ Warren, Matt (2021-01-26). "2021 Film Independent Spirit Award Nominations Announced!". Film Independent. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  19. ^ "Spike Lee's 'Da 5 Bloods' Named Best Film of 2020 by National Board of Review". 26 January 2021.
  20. ^ "2020 Nominees". Press Academy. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  21. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (18 February 2021). "'One Night in Miami', 'Judas and the Black Messiah' Lead Nominations For 21st Annual Black Reel Awards". Deadline. Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  22. ^ Partridge, Jon (12 March 2021). "2020 Austin Film Critics Association Award Nominations". AFCA. Retrieved March 14, 2021.
  23. ^ Ramos, Dino-Ray; Hipes, Patrick (2021-03-28). "NAACP Image Awards Winners: 'Bad Boys For Life' Best Picture, D-Nice Entertainer Of The Year; Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman Top Movie Acting Honors – Full List Of Winners". Deadline. Retrieved 2021-03-29.