Regina King took home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress Sunday night for her work in Barry Jenkins’ James Baldwin adaptation “If Beale Street Could Talk” This marks the first nomination and first win for the actress, who achieved mainstream notoriety in 1996 for her comedic turn as Marcy Tidwell in “Jerry Maguire.” King’s Oscar will join her Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for the same role, as well as her three Emmys for her work in “American Crime” and “Seven Seconds.”
“James Baldwin birthed this baby, and Barry [Jenkins] you surrounded her, you nurtured her, with so much love and support,” said King in her acceptance speech. Gesturing to her mother, who was sitting in the audience, she said: “Thank you for teaching me that God is always leaning, always has been leaning in my direction.”
Adapted by Jenkins from Baldwin’s seminal 1974 novel, “If Beale Street Could Talk” is a love story set in Harlem that follows the star-crossed romance between two African-American youths, Fonny (Stephan James) and Tish (KiKi Layne). Their lives are upended when Fonny is wrongfully imprisoned for a sexual assault he did not commit, and Tish must carry her pregnancy to term without a partner. Their lives are on hold while Fonny is in prison, and Tish’s family becomes totally preoccupied with proving Fonny’s innocence. This includes her father Joseph (Colman Domingo) and mother Sharon (King), who travels down to Puerto Rico to confront Fonny’s accuser in one of the film’s most powerful scenes.
The movie was shut out of a Best Picture nomination, but (in addition to King’s acting recognition) received a Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Score nomination for a total of three nods.
King faced stiff competition in the category, as ten-time nominee “The Favourite” stars Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone both appeared in her category, as well as six-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams for “Vice” and Marina de Tavira for “Roma.”
Presenting the award to King was a trio of funny women; Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, and Tina Fey.
The 91st Academy Awards took place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday, February 24. The host-less show aired on ABC, and was also live-streamed by the network.