British stars Daniel Kaluuya and Emerald Fennell were among the early Oscar winners as Hollywood’s biggest night took place in Los Angeles.
The UK went on to enjoy a solid night at the 2021 Oscars, with a total of six wins, the same number as last year.
Fennell, who won best original screenplay for her directorial debut Promising Young Woman, fought back tears as she delivered her improvised acceptance speech.
But it’s the best supporting actor winner that people are talking about, after Kaluuya appeared to horrify his mother with an acceptance speech that took a surprising turn.
What did he say?
Kaluuya was named best supporting actor for his portrayal of Black Panther party leader Fred Hampton in Judas & the Black Messiah. the first British actor from an ethnic minority background to win the award.
Accepting the prize, he paid tribute to Hampton, saying: “What a man. How blessed we are that we lived in a lifetime when he existed, thank you for your life, he was on this earth for 21 years and he found a way to feed kids, educate kids, give free medical care against all odds…”
Kaluuya told of his admiration for the Black Panther leader, who was shot and killed by police in Chicago in 1969 when he was 21, and praised his work in the black community, taking aim at the forces of the state that worked to bring him down.
“When they played divide and conquer, we say unite and ascend,” Kaluuya said, addressing the star-studded audience. “There’s so much work to do guys, and that’s on everyone in this room.
“This ain’t no single man job. We’ve got work to do.
“I’m going to get back to work Tuesday morning, because tonight I’m going out.”
But it was his closing remarks that will be remembered most, words that had his mother – who was in the audience – squirming awkwardly in her seat.
“My mum met my dad, they had sex. It’s amazing. I’m here! I’m so happy to be alive.”
He finished off his speech saying: “Peace, love and onwards we go again.”
‘Humanising a hero’
Ahead of the ceremony, Kaluuya said he was motivated to take the role to challenge perceptions of Hampton.
Speaking to ABC at the ceremony, Kaluuya said: “People in Chicago know what’s happening and know the story of Fred Hampton and know him as a man.
“But the public narrative was hating him as an antagonist, all you knew was about how he was assassinated, not how he lived, or what he cared about, what he loved.”
Kaluuya said he wanted to “humanise a hero”.
The 32-year-old also discussed his preparation for the role, revealing he underwent voice coaching for his American accent and took up smoking.
Kaluuya first came to notice as Posh Kenneth in the British TV series Skins; he was part of the cast for the first two series, and wrote two of the episodes.
His first film role was in the 2006 BBC Films feature drama Shoot The Messenger, and in 2011 he landed a role in Black Mirror, in the Fifteen Million Merits episode, opposite Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay.
He went on to appear in Welcome To The Punch, Kick-Ass 2 and Sicario, but it was his role in Jordan Peele’s 2017 horror satire Get Out which launched him into the big time, landing him his first Oscar nomination.
Since then he has become an international star, with roles in Marvel film Black Panther, Steve McQueen’s heist thriller Widows and drama Queen & Slim.
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