The SAG Awards took place Sunday as awards season continues to move forward.
Will Smith won Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture in a film for his portrayal of Venus and Serena Williams father Richard Williams in King Richard and Ariana DeBose won best Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture for her role as Anita inWest Side Story.
The two actors beat out crowded fields to win their respective awards, and now the course is set for a real push at the Academy Awards for both Smith and Debose.
Will Smith wins Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture
Smith was ecstatic about his win, jumping out of his seat and embracing his costars Aunjanue Ellis and Saniyya Sidney. Smith beat out his fellow nominees Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog), Andrew Garfield (Tick, Tick … Boom!) and Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth).
He called the award one of his greatest moments, saying in his awards speech, “That may have been one of the greatest moments of my career just now because my name was called for King Richard sitting next to Venus Williams.”
He went on to say of Richard Williams, “Richard Williams is a dreamer like no one has ever known. He has a power of belief that borders on insanity and sometimes tips over the border, which is absolutely necessary to take something from impossible to possible.”
As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Smith reflected backstage on his past year, commenting, “It’s been a time of deep personal reflection, and it is resulting in an artistic comprehension and growth as a man and growth as an artist… I’ve never had this kind of growth spurt in my life.”
Smith also praised his young costars in a heartwarming shout saying, “to walk you around this room tonight, to parent you on this film, to deliver you into this business has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life.”
The win is Smith’s first SAG Award after three nominations, and the award sets the stage for him as the favorite heading into the Academy Awards.
Ariana DeBose wins Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture
In her first SAG nomination and win, Ariana DeBose beat out Caitriona Balfe (Belfast), Cate Blanchett (Nightmare Alley), Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog) and Ruth Negga (Passing). DeBose, the first Latinx, SAG film actress winner, reflected on her journey as an actor in her speech.
“It’s taken a long time for me to feel comfortable calling myself an actor,” she said. My roots come from the dance world and the Broadway stage. The Anita that we see on the screen, took every bit of me, but she took ten years to make and I’m extremely proud of her and of our film. And I really do believe that when you recognize one of us you recognize all of us in a way.”
Praised as one of the must-see performances in West Side Story, Debose went on to thank director of the film Steven Spielberg for “believing in the possibility of not only my talent but of that of my colleagues” calling the production of the movie a “labor of love.”
Backstage, she said, “It’s an honor to be seen, it’s an honor to be an Afro-Latina, an openly queer woman of color, a dancer, a singer and an actor. It’s indicative of me that I will not be the last and that’s the important part. Whatever firsts are attached are name are immensely special to me but focused on if I’m the first of anything then I will not be the last.”
Debose already nabbed a Golden Globe for her performance and is nominated for an Academy Award…and it looks like she will be receiving a lot more awards in the coming month.
There were a lot of big wins for the night
Other winners from the night included the cast of CODA for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, with CODA’s Troy Kotsur winning Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role. He is the first deaf actor to win an individual SAG Award.
Squid Game stars Lee Jung-jae and Jung Ho-Yeon also made history becoming the first actors from a non-English language show to win in their respective categories — Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series and Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series.