“Black Panther” snagged the most prestigious award at the 25th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Motion Picture, on Sunday night inside the Shrine Auditorium. Chadwick Boseman, who played the film’s leading man T’Challa, used Nina Simone’s song “To be Young, Gifted and Black” as a way to describe the groundbreaking win in his acceptance speech.
“All of us up here know what it’s like to be told there is not a place for you to be featured, yet you are young, gifted and Black,” he said joined by the “Black Panther” cast that featured Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Michael B. Jordan, Danai Gurira, among others. “We know what it’s like to be told there’s not a screen for you to be featured on, a stage for you to be featured on. We know what it’s like to be the tail and not the head, to be beneath and not above and that is what we went to work with every day.”
This was the first superhero film to earn the awards’ top honors and certainly one with a Black-dominant cast. Notably, it was directed by 32-year-old Ryan Coogler, who is one of the most innovative African American directors. The Marvel box-office hit generated over $1 billion in revenue globally.
Boseman expounded upon his initial statement by sharing the challenges being a Black actor presents.
“[It] speaks to the fact that you have the same dreams as other people,” he continued. “You have equal if not more talent at times, but you don’t have the same opportunities. You don’t necessarily have the same doors open to you, the same nepotism, the same money or resources that could be put toward your dreams,” Boseman said matter-of-factly.
“And you, a lot of times, don’t have family members that have ever achieved the things that you want to do. And so when you aspire to do something that is outside the realm of what the world would see you doing and also what your family has ever achieved … to be young, gifted and Black is all of that,” the 41-year-old actor remarked. “It’s to have everything but then not be quite able to grasp it and to be the able to persevere through that.”
Boseman’s emotionally charged speech was just one of the many highlights of the evening. As the outside of the Shrine Auditorium was converted to a silver carpet, signifying the awards’ silver anniversary, it was the runway for Hollywood’s brightest stars to mix and mingle adorned with bright colorful dresses, tailored tuxedos and people of all creeds. Among them were Lady Gaga, Sandra Oh, Sterling K. Brown and Patricia Arquette.
“The reason why we think this is the ultimate award is because it is peers looking at other peers and saying ‘now that’s acting,’” expressed David White, SAG-AFTRA’s executive director and chief negotiator.
SAG-AFTRA has ensured its members be acknowledged and protected. White emphasized how integral it is to the organization to celebrate non-traditional stories and its’ actors.
“I don’t even consider it diversity,” White told the L.A. Sentinel. “It’s all of us contributing to the fabric of our country, our stories are all apart of our history. It’s all here if you look out on this crowd; you see humanity.”
With just under a month until the Oscars, the success of Black Panther at the SAG Awards should not be ignored. Seeing the cast grace the stage was art imitating life, given the movie’s premise. The representation of Black excellence both on-screen and in reality is personified by this illustrious cast. Wakanda Forever!
See the full list of winners from the 25th Annual SAG Awards: http://sagawards.org/nominees/nominees-and-recipients/25th-annual-screen-actors-guild-awards.