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Brie Larson has won best actress at the Oscars for her portrayal of a woman held captive for years with her young son in Room.

This is Larson’s first win, on her first nomination.

Larson plays Joy — or “Ma,” as her son, Jack, calls her — in Lenny Abrahamson’s harrowing drama, based on Emma Donoghue’s novel of the same name. Joy tries to create a sense of normalcy for Jack in “Room,” which is the only life he’s ever known, but after they escape both must adjust back to the outside world.

“I hope this is a story that honestly changes people and allows them to be free,” she told reporters backstage after accepting the award. “To me, making this movie was my own search for freedom and breaking free of my own personal boundaries, and I hope when people watch this movie they have it in themselves to break free of whatever is holding them back.”

“The story has so much to do with this beautiful allegory with growing up, of being young and living in a small space and seeing things in black and white,” Larson told EW recently. “It takes courage, when the moment happens, to step outside this small space into a world that’s bigger and more complex. That’s exactly what’s happening in my own life.”

Larson’s performance in Room previously earned her a Golden Globe and SAG Award in the best actress category. In winning at the Oscars, she beat out Cate Blanchett in Carol, Saoirse Ronam in Brooklyn, Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years, and Jennifer Lawrence in Joy.

Additional reporting by Marc Snetiker

Oscars 2016
  • Movie