Chadwick Boseman, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B. Jordan were among the castmembers that took the stage to accept the honor before Andy Serkis and others joined as well.
Boseman discussed two questions that he said the cast has been often asked throughout the film’s publicity tour: “One is, did we know that this movie was going to receive this kind of response — meaning, was it gonna make billions of dollars, 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 the industry works; how it sees us? And my answer to that is, to be young, gifted and black.”
Boseman continued, “We all 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. 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’s it 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. Because we knew — not that we would be around during awards season or that it would make a billion dollars — but 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. That we could create a world that exemplified a world that we wanted to see,” Boseman said. “We knew that we had something that we wanted to give. And to come to work every day and to solve problems with this group of people, this director, that is something that I wish all actors would get the opportunity to experience. If you get to experience that, you will be a fulfilled artist.”
Boseman wrapped up his speech by addressing the second question he mentioned. “One thing that I do know — did it change the industry? — is that you can’t have a Black Panther now without a ‘two’ on it.”
Backstage, Boseman again cited Nina Simone’s song “To Be Young, Gifted and Black.”
“That’s one of my favorite songs; it’s one of my favorite sayings in poetry,” Boseman said. “It speaks to the fact that you have the same dreams as other people, you have equal if not more talent at times, but you don’t have the same opportunities. You don’t have the same doors open to you, the same nepotism, the same money and resources that can be put toward your dreams. And a lot of times, you don’t have family members that have ever achieved the same things that you wanted to do.”
He continued, “So when you aspire to do something that is outside of the realm of how the world sees you and what your family has ever achieved … to be young, gifted, and black is all of that. It’s to have all of that and not be quite able to grasp that but to be able to persevere through that.”
The 2019 SAG Awards were simulcast live on TNT and TBS from the Shrine Exposition Center in Los Angeles, with Megan Mullally serving as the show’s second-ever host.