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Lee Jung-jae and Thuso Mbedu were given the best male and female lead honors for TV series during the 2022 Independent Spirit Awards on Sunday.
Before revealing the winners, presenters Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones explained shows are “considered indie” when they are new.
Squid Game star Lee wasn’t able to attend the show due to a scheduling conflict, though he accepted the award in a pre-recorded video.
After thanking fans for “loving” the Netflix show, the actor took the opportunity to answer a popular question.
“I know there are lots of Squid Game fans in the world, and what you’re all curious about the most is when Season 2 will come out,” he said. “It’s on the way! Stay tuned.”
Lee added that he has “so many people to thank” before he gave a shout out to the entire Squid Game team and Netflix, while he also thanked the show’s viewers.
Lee was up against Olly Alexander (It’s a Sin), Michael Greyeyes (Rutherford Falls), Murray Bartlett (The White Lotus) and Ashley Thomas (THEM: Covenant).
Meanwhile, The Underground Railroad actress Thuso Mbedu beat out Anjana Vasan (We Are Lady Parts), Jana Schmieding (Rutherford Falls), Jasmine Cephas Jones (Blindspotting) and Deborah Ayorinde (THEM: Covenant) for the female lead honor.
Mbedu was visibly shocked by the win as she made her way to the stage to accept the award.
“They told me a number of times to prepare something and I really didn’t,” the first-time nominee and winner began. “First and foremost, thank you to Film Independent for this recognition.”
After thanking creator and director Barry Jenkins for “absolutely everything,” Mbedu showed her appreciation for casting director Francine Maisler’s “guidance.”
“Thank you to Amazon, to all the executive producers, to my team, Beth, April, Laurie, everyone,” she continued.
The actress then thanked her sister in South Africa, joking that “she would kill me if I don’t say anything about her.”
She showed her appreciation for “every single person who was involved in The Underground Railroad.” Mbedu said, “There was no person who was too small in making the project what it was, and I really, really hope that you guys will take the time to watch it because it’s an absolute masterpiece.”
The actress continued to rave about Jenkins backstage. “Barry is a very collaborative director and it was more about what I found for the character more than anything and him supporting that,” she told reporters. “It was evident with like moments on set, where if we made an offer, he would then go and change the script to accommodate that which we had offered, which was amazing.”
Mbedu said it was a “great challenge to tell the story because it is a very important story,” adding that she “wanted it to go to whoever could tell it as authentically and as respectfully as possible.”
“I’m grateful that I did get that opportunity, too, and I did a lot of research going into it guided by Barry, and I do hope that people will get the chance to receive it for what it is, without me feel like I imposed my emotions onto it anyway,” she added.
Mbedu added that winning the award was “surreal” and admitted she didn’t think she would be the honor’s recipient.
Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally hosted the 2022 Independent Spirit Awards, which were available to watch on IFC and AMC+.
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