All hail the king: Black Panther won Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at this year’s Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Ryan Coogler’s superhero epic — which stars Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Winston Duke, and more — claimed the top film prize at Sunday night’s ceremony, beating out fellow nominees A Star Is Born, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Crazy Rich Asians.
As the cast took the stage, Boseman accepted the award on their behalf, delivering a searing speech about the film’s meteoric rise and referencing Nina Simone’s classic song “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black.”
“When I think of going to work every day and the passion and the intelligence, the resolve, the discipline that everybody showed, I also think of two questions that we all have received during the course of multiple publicity runs,” Boseman told the audience. “One is: Did we know that this movie was going to receive this kind of response? Meaning, was it going to make a billion dollars? Was it going to still be around during this awards season?”
“The second question is: Has it changed the industry?” he continued. “Has it actually changed the way this industry works [and] how it sees us? And my answer to that is: ‘To be young, gifted, and black.'”
Boseman reminisced how he, Coogler, and the other cast members set out to make a film that felt true to their experiences and celebrated the stories they wanted to tell.
“We know what it’s like to be told there’s not a screen for you to be featured on, a stage for you to be featured on,” Boseman said. “We know what it’s like to be the tail, but not the head. We know what it’s like to be beneath, but not above. And that is what we went to work with every day. Because we knew not that we would be around during awards season or that it would make a billion dollars, but we knew that we had something special that we wanted to give the world — that we could be full human beings in the roles that we were playing. That we could create a world that exemplified a world that we wanted to see.”
Boseman closed out his speech by celebrating the film’s popularity and teasing a planned sequel: “I know you can’t have a Black Panther now without a ‘2’ on it.”
Black Panther’s win makes it the first comic book superhero movie to win best ensemble at the SAG Awards. (The film also earned a nomination for best stunt ensemble.) The film has become both a cultural and financial juggernaut since it hit theaters in February 2018, raking in $1.347 billion worldwide and sparking new conversations about representation in blockbuster movies.
Backstage after the ceremony, Boseman expanded on his speech and why “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black” is one of his favorite sayings and his favorite songs.
“It speaks to the fact that you have the same dreams as other people [and] you have equal if not more talent at times, but you don’t have the same opportunities,” he told reporters. “You don’t necessarily have the same doors open, the same nepotism or the same money, the same resources that could be put forward for you to achieve dreams. So when you aspire to do something that is outside the realm of what the world would see you doing, to be young gifted and black is all of that. It’s to have everything but not quite be able to grasp it, and to be able to persevere through all of that.”