Mahershala Ali Went To Bed an Oscar Winner, Woke Up a Calvin Klein Model
Last night, Moonlight won the Oscar for Best Picture in a heartbreakingly poetic way.
For a few painful moments after Faye Dunaway announced La La Land as the winner, it seemed like 2017 was going to continue bringing the disappointing fuckery that 2016 had left us with: one candidate winning the vote when the other deserved it so, so much more.
Don't get me wrong, I'm obsessed with Ryan Gosling and I loved La La Land, but seeing it win Best Picture seemed like a pointed statement that the status quo was alive and well and that the #OscarsSoWhite controversy was willing to go strong for a third year.
The excitement and disbelief, then, of seeing the historic upset, the scandalous opening of the wrong envelope and the final glorious awarding of the Oscar to its rightful owners? It was bliss. It was relief.
So when I woke up this morning and saw that the now-Oscar-winning cast of Moonlight had also shot an ad campaign for Calvin Klein, I was just beyond.
The photos, released this morning while we were all still basking in the heady bewildered excitement of last night, feature Mahershala Ali, Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, and even young Alex Hibbert, and they are unreal.
Take a look for yourself:
I mean...do you need a minute? I need a minute. Maybe three.
Whew! Okay, focus, Madeleine.
Alright. Like I was saying, both the brand and the actors are making it clear that this campaign is far more than a handful of hot dudes in their underwear (although, credit where credit is due, it is also hot dudes in their underwear.)
Moonlight was a revelation precisely because of the story it had the courage to tell, and the striking film left many gratefully applauding the way it allowed space for tenderness, vulnerability, and fearless exploration of a different type of masculinity.
The film tells a powerful story, one which resonates precisely because of how rare it is. It's an unfortunate fact that it is still uncommon to see a mainstream film featuring a black man in a leading role, and a black gay man? It's unprecedented. Even in straight roles, black men are rarely afforded such a nuanced character, instead, they are relegated to the role of wisecracking sidekick, or depicted as overly athletic, aggressive, or sexual.
In a statement about the ad campaign posted on the Calvin Klein website, the brand made clear that this campaign fully understands, honors and endorses the stereotype-shattering spirit of the film:
"How radical an act it is to reveal oneself to another so candidly, so clearly, that it strikes a nerve" the statement reads, "When so much out in the world would threaten us – bodily, psychologically, scaring us inside of ourselves to seek shelter within – merely showing oneself, unguarded, can be heroic. For these four phenomenal actors – Mahershala, as well as breakout newcomers Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes – whose profoundly brave performances made Moonlight this year’s tour de force movie, finding their voice on-screen was just the beginning. With the attention and opportunities that will now come their way, Mahershala, Alex, Ashton, and Trevante can properly announce themselves to the world. This is their time to step into the light."
And step into the light they have; first into the spotlight at the Academy Awards and now into these striking photographs.
We wholeheartedly welcome this "radical act", this vulnerability, this type of nuanced storytelling and, yes, the delicious eye-candy that comes along with it.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below.