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In her acceptance speech, Davis thanked the film’s cast, including the “beautiful” Chadwick Boseman; director George C. Wolfe; the film’s producers, including Denzel Washington; and August Wilson, who wrote the play on which the Netflix film is based, thanking him for “leaving a legacy to actors of color that we can relish for the rest of our lives.”
Just moments later, Boseman won another posthumous award for his starring role in the film.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom went into the awards nominated for three awards, including for best cast, tied with Minari for the most film award nominations. The Trial of the Chicago 7 ended up winning the best cast award.
Davis beat out fellow nominees Amy Adams, Vanessa Kirby, Frances McDormand and Carey Mulligan, with many pundits expecting Mulligan to collect another trophy for her role in Promising Young Woman.
Mulligan won the Critics Choice Award for best actress and has received equivalent honors from a number of critics’ groups. Andra Day, who won the best actress in a drama Golden Globe and is nominated for the best actress Oscar, didn’t receive a nomination from SAG-AFTRA. The other nominees in this category, except for Adams, are all nominated for the best actress Oscar.
While pundits may not have expected Davis to win, those looking at her and Mulligan’s track record at the SAG Awards might have predicted it as Mulligan has never won an award from the actors union, but Davis has won five previous trophies.
With this award, Davis scores her sixth SAG Awards win, last taking home a trophy in 2017 for her supporting role in Fences. Prior to that she won best actress in a drama series for her small-screen role in How to Get Away With Murder in 2015 and 2016. In 2012, she won best actress and was part of the winning best cast for her role in The Help.
Davis and Halle Berry are the only Black women to win the SAG award for lead actress in a film, with Berry famously the only Black woman to win the Oscar for best actress, a prize she captured nearly 20 years ago, in 2002.
Indeed, Berry won for Monster’s Ball at the 2002 SAG Awards on her way to winning the Oscar, but Davis’ win for The Help wasn’t followed by an Oscar win as fellow nominee Meryl Streep won the Oscar that year.
If Davis wins the best actress Oscar, she’ll be only the second Black woman to ever receive that trophy.
Neither Davis nor Mulligan are nominated for the BAFTA award for best actress, but Davis did recently win best actress for her role in Ma Rainey at the 2021 NAACP Image Awards on March 27, which took place amid SAG Awards voting, which closed on March 30.
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