It was another busy awards weekend with both the Critics Choice and BAFTA awards taking place on Sunday. While there wasn’t a huge amount of Black representation at either show, we do have a few fan favorites to talk about.
Will Smith has officially set himself up as the Oscar frontrunner, winning Best Actor at the 27th Annual Critics Choice Awards and Leading Actor at the EE British Academy Film Awards for his portrayal of Richard Williams in King Richard. According to Variety, during his Critics Choice acceptance speech, Smith once again thanked the Williams family for allowing him to tell their story.
“Thank you for entrusting me with your story,” Smith told the Williams sisters. “What your family was able to do inspired everyone in this room, everyone in this country and everyone around the world. You all define the American dream. You represent the best of what we all hope this country and this world can be.”
He also made a point of recognizing Venus and Serena’s mother Oracene Price, who he noted played a “quiet role” in her daughters’ career. This led him to thank his Oscar nominated co-star. “Your father didn’t do it alone. It would be disingenuous for me to accept this award without acknowledging Aunjanue Ellis,” he said.
Ariana DeBose also found herself with double wins over the weekend, picking up Best Supporting Actress honors at both shows. According to People, she thanked fellow nominee and West Side Story co-star Rita Moreno during her Critics Choice Awards acceptance speech.
“To my fellow nominees: You are all so stinking glorious and I love you so much. You inspire me, and especially one fellow nominee, the great Rita Moreno,” DeBose said. “Seriously, you made space for me to thrive beside you. I am not in front of you, I am not behind you, I am beside you. And that is the greatest gift you could’ve ever given me.”
The actress, who was at the satellite ceremony in London, finished her speech by sending out a message to any young people watching the show.
“Doesn’t matter how you identify or who you are, you are unique, you are talented, you are seen, you are valued, you are loved and you matter,” DeBose said. “You matter.”
The most poignant, inspiring part of the show came when Issa Rae presented Halle Berry with the SeeHer award. The legendary actress/producer/director gave an empowering speech about how important it is for women to tell their stories.
“I’ve been in the business for 30 years and I used to think if I could play the part of a white man that would be winning. You want to know why that didn’t work? If you didn’t know, I’m not a white man,” she said. “So for those roles to work, they would have to be substantially changed. It would have to be written with the reality of my journey in all of its beauty and all of its pain. This is why I’m so grateful to be standing and living in this moment where women are standing up, and we are telling our own stories.”
But while there were plenty of memorable speeches on Sunday, it wasn’t all fun shoutouts and laughs. A particularly weird moment came when Best Director winner Jane Campion tried to compliment Venus and Serena during her speech. She started by acknowledging how great the duo are, but then clumsily said, “Venus and Serena, you’re such marvels but you don’t play against the guys, like I have to.” I’m sorry, what? In the moment, she was clearly joking and thought she was being clever, but it just came off as cringey and unnecessary. Why even bring Venus and Serena into her speech? Just thank your cast, crew and studio, then move on. Now, the Williams sisters have to get asked about your nonsense comments.
The BAFTAs also saw wins for Lashana Lynch as the EE Rising Star and The Harder They Fall’s Jeymes Samuel for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer.
[Update] Following criticism and backlash of her remarks, Deadline reports Campion issued an apology to the tennis greats:
“I made a thoughtless comment equating what I do in the film world with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved. I did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women and world-class athletes. The fact is the Williams sisters have, actually, squared off against men on the court (and off), and they have both raised the bar and opened doors for what is possible for women in this world. The last thing I would ever want to do is minimize remarkable women. I love Serena and Venus. Their accomplishments are titanic and inspiring. Serena and Venus, I apologize and completely celebrate you.”
Updated as of 3/14/2022 at 2:18 p.m. ET