Oscars: Trevor Noah's Xhosa Joke and More Inside References Explained

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Trevor Noah

The Hollywood Reporter breaks down the shout-outs and jokes that may have left viewers scratching their heads.

While the 2019 Oscars delivered a number of surprises on Sunday night, the awards show also left viewers, particularly those who don't work in or closely follow the entertainment industry, with a number of questions that have nothing to do with why certain nominees won. 

For instance, what did Trevor Noah really say in Xhosa when he introduced best picture nominee Black Panther? Why was Green Book's win in the best picture category dedicated to Carrie Fisher? Why did Regina King thank former Annapurna executive Chelsea Barnard while accepting the Oscar for best supporting actress? And who are Nate Moore and Carol Trevino, the people Hannah Beachler emotionally thanked while accepting the award for best production design?

Read on to find out the stories behind four inside references from Sunday night's Oscars ceremony.

Trevor Noah's Mel Gibson joke and Xhosa comment during the Black Panther introduction

Noah made a joke targeted at Gibson to remind the audience about the actor's history of making racist remarks while he introduced best picture nominee Black Panther.

After Noah noted that the Black Panther's story and his appeal are universal, he said, "I know this personally because of all the people who constantly come up to me and say, 'Wakanda forever.'"

Noah said that many people from around the world have approached him with the phrase, which honors the fictional African kingdom in the movie. "Even backstage, Mel Gibson came up to me like, 'Wakanda forever,'" said Noah. "He said another word after that, but the Wakanda part was nice."

The joke was a reference to Gibson's past instances of offensive comments. In 2010, Gibson was caught on tape using the n-word as he told his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva on a voicemail that the way she dressed would get her "raped by a pack of n----rs."

The leaked voicemail was not the first controversy Gibson faced. In 2006, he went on an anti-Semitic rant against a police officer in Malibu after he was pulled over for drunk driving.

The South African-born Noah also spoke in Xhosa during the introduction. The language is spoken in his home country, as well as other countries in Africa.

"Growing up as a young boy in Wakanda, I would see King T'Challa flying over our village," the comedian and late-night host joked. "He would remind me of a great Xhosa phrase: 'Abelungu abazi ubu ndiyaxoka,' which means, 'In times like these, we are stronger when we fight together than when we try to fight apart."

The real translation, according to the BBC and South African media outlets, is, "White people don't know I'm lying."

Why Green Book's best picture win was dedicated to Carrie Fisher

The acceptance speech for Green Book's win in the best picture category concluded with producer Charles B. Wessler dedicating the award to Fisher.

The dedication likely left many viewers confused. The actress, who died in 2016, seemingly had no connection to the film about the true friendship between Italian-American driver-turned-actor Tony "Lip" Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) and Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), the African-American musician he drove through the deep South on a concert tour in 1962.

Fisher received a shout-out because she was good friends with Wessler, who worked as an uncredited production assistant on The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

Regina King thanked former Annapurna executive Chelsea Barnard during her acceptance speech

The actress won her first Oscar for her supporting role in If Beale Street Could Talk during Sunday's ceremony.

In addition to thanking her mother and fellow nominees, King thanked Barnard for "bringing this project to Annapurna" while accepting the award.

The former Annapurna Pictures film head abruptly exited the company in October just hours after it was reported that the production company had let go of its Jay Roach-helmed Fox News and Roger Ailes film. Barnard was heavily involved in the project, as well as a Jennifer Lopez-Constance Wu stripper film based on the New York magazine piece "The Hustlers at Scores" that had also been dropped by the company. Details of her exit have been kept under wraps.

Barnard was a producer on If Beale Street Could Talk, along with Annapurna boss Megan Ellison. She exited the company on the same day as the film's premiere in Harlem. Barnard did not make an appearance at the event.

Hannah Beachler thanking Marvel executive Nate Moore and Carol Trevino

Beachler made history as the first African-American woman to be nominated and win an Oscar for best production design.

The Black Panther production designer thanked Moore and Trevino while accepting the honor alongside set decorator Jay Hart.

After thanking a number of people behind the film, Beachler thanked Moore, whom she referred to as "the man with the best laugh."

Moore is vp development and production at Marvel Studios. In addition to working on Black Panther, his other credits include Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War.

T'Challa/Black Panther was the first character Moore began to develop when he joined Marvel Studios in 2010. As an executive producer on Black Panther, Moore was responsible for bringing the entire team behind the film together and for transitioning the characters from their comic forms to their onscreen versions.

"I am stronger because of a woman who supported me everyday that I wanted to give up. This is for you, my friend, Carol Trevino. Rest in power," Beachler continued in her speech.

Trevino was a former friend and classmate of Beachler's. The two studied at Wright State University together. Trevino was killed in an automobile accident while working on a film in Louisiana in 2007.