Actors Daniel Kaluuya (“Get Out”), John Boyega (“Detroit”) and Mary J. Blige (“Mudbound”) were honored at the 33rd annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) with Virtuosos Awards.
Created to recognize a select group of talent who have distinguished themselves through breakthrough performances in film this past year, previous recipients include Janelle Monáe, Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris and Ruth Negga. Presented by UGG, entertainment guru Dave Karger moderated for the eight year and led a panel discussion and one on one Q&A with the honorees.
Blige, who made Oscars history by becoming the first person ever to be nominated for an acting performance and an original song in a single year, shared with the audience what went through her mind the morning of the announcement. “I didn’t even watch. I tried to sleep completely through the whole thing and my channel wasn’t on any of the channels that were announcing anything,” she said. “Things like this just don’t happen. I was so grateful. The grace of God is just everything because this is all the grace of God. I can’t even give it to anyone else.”
Boyega explained the unique casting process the actors went through for “Detroit” as they didn’t know who they would play until after being cast. “When they gave us the description for the audition, they told us to read a particular scene and it was from “In the Heat of the Night.” I was confused for a second, but it was about tone, it was about the message. And after the audition and getting the part, then I found out who I was playing.”
Kaluuya touched on overcoming the challenge which was Jordan Peele’s want to cast an American actor for his thriller “Get Out” which focused on racism. “He had reservations because, for him, it felt like an African-American story,” said Kaluuya. “But then I opened up to him about my experience as a black man. I just talked to him about my experiences and my life. I get it, I understand it. That’s my life.”
Samantha Ofole-Prince is a journalist and movie critic who covers industry-specific news that includes television and film. She can be reached at email@example.com. Photo credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SBIFF