Photo: Associated Press
The Screen Actors Guild Awards aka the #SAGAwards is one of the entertainment industry’s most important nights and last night it turned out to be a big win for us! Black Panther won the Actor for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. This ensemble win was a major moment during the broadcast - a moment that became an opportunity for Chadwick Boseman to steal the show. Calling to mind one of the greatest adages ever uttered in Black culture, our King of Wakanda used the spotlight to make a statement.
"This cast, this ensemble…man…when I think of going to work every day and the passion and the intelligence, the resolve - the discipline that everybody showed, I also think of two questions that we all have received during the course of multiple publicity runs. And one is, did we know this movie was gonna receive this kind of response - meaning was it gonna make a billion dollars, was it still gonna be around this awards season?
And the second question is - has it changed the industry? Has it actually changed the way this industry works, how it sees us?
And my answer is ‘To Be Young, Gifted and Black.’"
Recorded and released in 1969 by Nina Simone with lyrics by Weldon Irvine, the song “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” was written in memory of her late friend Lorraine Hansberry. Lorraine was a writer, scholar, stage director, and playwright, making history as the author of the play A Raisin in the Sun. Tragically in 1965, Lorraine passed away at the young age of 34 from cancer. The song would later be featured on Nina’s Black Gold album, solidifying its place at the heart of The Civil Rights Movement.
It’s this powerful anthem that Chadwick uses to address the industry, speaking the truth on the struggles that Black actors and actresses often face, and how Black Panther was bigger than just box office records.
“To be young, gifted and Black - we all know what it is like to be told that there is no place for you to be featured yet you’re still young gifted and Black. We know what it’s like to be told that there’s not a screen for you to be featured on or a stage for you to be featured on. We know what it’s like to be the tail and not the head. We know what it’s like to be beneath and not above. And that is what we went to work with every day - not because we knew that we would Be around during award season or that it would make a billion dollars. We knew that we had something special that we wanted to give the world. That we could be full human beings in the roles that we were playing. We could create a world that exemplified a world that we wanted to see. We knew that we had something that we wanted to give. And to come to work every day with these people and solve problems with this group of people and this director [points to Ryan Coogler] - that is something I wish that all actors could get the chance to experience. If you get to experience that, you will be a fulfilled artist. The question of, if we would be around during award season I just wanna say that it’s a pleasure to be celebrated by you and to be loved by you. And one thing I do now, what did it change the industry? I do know that you can’t have a Black Panther now without a 2 on it. So we love you and we celebrate it.”
Here's Boseman's full speech.
The group also took home the award for Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture and we look forward to being blessed with more Black excellence as the award show circuit continues.