Film Independent has announced today that “Saturday Night Live” star Melissa Villaseñor has been tapped as host of the 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards on April 22. The comedian joins a long list of previous Indie Spirits hosts (including many of her “SNL” brethren), like Aubrey Plaza, Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, Kate McKinnon and Kumail Nanjiani, Fred Armisen and Kristen Bell, Patton Oswalt, Andy Samberg, Joel McHale, Sarah Silverman, Samuel L. Jackson, Queen Latifah, and John Waters.
“As someone who considers herself a pretty dependent person, I’m truly honored to host the Film Independent Spirit Awards,” said Villaseñor in an official statement. Added Film Independent President Josh Welsh, “We’re thrilled to welcome Melissa Villaseñor into the club of smart, funny film lovers to host the Spirit Awards. The time to laugh has definitely arrived, and not a moment too soon.”
Said Blake Callaway, Executive Director, IFC and SundanceTV in a nod to the host’s wide-ranging knack for celebrity impressions, “Melissa and the unique circumstances of now will make this year’s ceremony like no other. It will certainly be a departure from the past, but with Melissa, the chances of Dolly, Ariana Grande, Bjork, Gwen Stefani, Julie Andrews and Lady Gaga showing up have skyrocketed.”
The 2021 Spirit Award nominations were revealed in a special video announcement on January 26, presented by guest emcees Laverne Cox, Barry Jenkins, and Olivia Wilde. Best Feature nominees include “First Cow,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “Minari,” “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” and “Nomadland.”
The show will be executive produced and directed by Joel Gallen of Tenth Planet Production for the seventh consecutive year. Shawn Davis returns as executive producer for Film Independent for his 19th year, Rick Austin returns as producer for his sixth year and Danielle Federico and Andrew Schaff also return as co-producers.
The Spirit Awards are the nonprofit art org’s primary fundraiser for its year-round slate of programs, which cultivate the careers of emerging filmmakers and promote diversity and inclusion across the film industry. One such program — the Directors Close-Up, an annual series featuring in-depth panel discussions with the year’s most celebrated filmmakers — will be comprised of 100 percent Spirit Award nominee panelists for the first time ever.
The Film Independent Spirit Awards, which has traditionally been held the day before the Oscars, recently shifted to a new slot to better accommodate a show that (at least for this year) will not unfold as an in-person event. The awards show will now roll out on Thursday, April 22 at 10 p.m. ET on IFC. In addition to the linear broadcast, the Spirit Awards will also stream simultaneously on AMC+. Following the broadcast, the full awards ceremony will be made available on demand across AMC+ and IFC platforms starting Friday, April 23.
Earlier this year, Film Independent president Josh Welsh explained the shift to IndieWire’s Anne Thompson. “We’ll try it out,” he said. “The move to broadcasting on Thursday night is a one-off for 2021 related to COVID. Assuming around the world people take the vaccine and we come out on the other side, in 2022, the expectation is we’ll be back to the beach the Saturday afternoon before the Oscars.”
As always, Indie Spirit winners are selected by Members of Film Independent. Members must be current by February 11 to receive full voting benefits, including access to nominee screeners. To join Film Independent and vote on the Spirit Awards, please visit filmindependent.org/join.