Spirit Awards: Zhao Shuzhen Wins Best Supporting Actress, Skips Show Due to Coronavirus Travel Ban

'The Farewell' director Lulu Wang accepted the honor on behalf of the actress, who wasn't able to leave her native China to attend the ceremony.

The Farewell's Zhao Shuzhen was named best supporting actress at Saturday's Film Independent Spirit Awards.

The film's director, Lulu Wang, accepted the honor on behalf of the actress, however, as Zhao wasn't able to leave her native China due to the coronavirus outbreak. During her acceptance speech, Wang — who based Shuzhen's character, Nai Nai, on her own grandmother — spoke passionately about her star's performance.

"She's stuck in China because of the coronavirus, sadly, but I know that she would have really loved to be here," said Wang, adding with a laugh, "even though she didn't read the script when I first sent it to her. Because she was like, 'What is this about? People lying? We do this all the time. What's dramatic about this?'"

Jokes aside, though, Wang went on to praise Zhao's dedication to the role. "And she also didn't care that much about Hollywood. We were an independent film and we didn't pay her a lot of money," the filmmaker continued. "And she's doing a lot of work in China where she gets paid a lot of money."

Wang also thanked those she believes Zhao would have liked to acknowledge, particularly co-star Awkwafina. "Even though they didn't speak the same language and they met basically for the first time on the first day of set, they somehow saw their own family members in each other," the director said of the actresses' connection. "And it was really beautiful to watch."

Wang then dedicated the award to "grandmothers everywhere." She concluded: "A lot of people earlier in the year could barely pronounce [Zhao's] name, but I'm just so happy that everybody loved her, so thank you so much."

Zhao's competition in the category included Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers), Taylor Russell (Waves), Lauren "Lolo" Spencer (Give Me Liberty) and Octavia Spencer (Luce). This year's best supporting female nominees made history as the first group to ever be all women of color.

Aubrey Plaza hosted the 2020 Spirit Awards, which were televised live on IFC from a tent on the beach in Santa Monica.