'Moonlight' Produced Pro-Science Activism's Next Great Spokesperson


After Moonlight’s Best Picture win at the Academy Awards, it’s fair to speculate that the star power of the film’s cast is only going to rise. And while we don’t yet know what role Alex Hibbert, the film’s youngest star, will take on next, we can bet what the critically acclaimed young man may do two decades from now. Hibbert may only be 12, but he’s already announced that his life’s ambition is to help cure cancer. This pro-science goal places the actor among the some of the most vocal celebrities who advocate for causes endorsed by science, despite his young age. He couldn’t have arrived at a more critical time.

In an interview before the Oscars, Hibbert explained that before he discovered acting he either wanted to be a football player or “a scientist that cures cancer,” as he told Hey U Guys in an interview. While his middle school drama program has helped steer him towards being an actor instead, contributing to the sciences still isn’t off the table.

“Football is out of the question now, but scientist-wise, I’m going to take most of my money … wait, some of my money, and build a lab, and I’m going to take the best scientists to work on curing cancer and stuff like that,” Hibbert said.

Actors Alex R. Hibbert, Samuel L. Jackson and Jaden Piner at the 89th Annual Academy Awards.

Getty Images / Kevork Djansezian

Hibbert, who attends a performing arts magnet middle school and told The New York Times that he loves science class, also credits his drama program as something that has helped him stop being “a bit of a bad child.” His endorsement of these school-provided opportunities, however, comes at a time where it has become increasingly difficult for schools to keep science and arts on the curriculum. Bills designed to limit discussion and information on climate change and evolution are currently circulating in states like Indiana, Oklahoma, and Texas. While 26 states agreed to the Next Generation Science Standards in 2015, only 16 states so far have actually adopted science education federal standards.

The federal requirement for arts education appears to be in danger as well. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA) requires that arts be a part of public school education and are supported by the $30 million Assistance for the Arts Education program. In February, Trump’s administration publicly announced it would support proposed revisions to the ESSA bill, including a nullification of the current ruling that each state must meet the same requirements (such as a mandatory arts program) under an accountability system. The president has also said that he plans on cutting funding to the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

As for Hibbert, we’ll have to see where his artistic and scientific path takes him. And regarding that “some of my money” comment — the rest of his financial plans are just as selfless. Hibbert plans on giving the rest to his mom so that she can retire.

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