The 94th Academy Awards have blessed Jessica Chastain with her first career Oscar. The actress accepted the best lead actress prize for her work in The Eyes of Tammy Faye on Sunday. During her acceptance speech, Chastain touched on current social issues of discrimination, violence, bigotry and division.
“We’re faced with discriminatory and bigoted legislation that is sweeping our country with the only goal of further dividing us. There’s violence and hate crimes being perpetuated on innocent civilians all over the world,” she said. “In times like this, I think of Tammy and I’m inspired by her radical acts of love. I’m inspired by her compassion. I see it as a guiding principle that moves us forward.”
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She continued: “It connects us all in the desire that we all want to be accepted for who we are, accepted for who we love, and to live a life without the fear of violence or terror.”
Chastain bested fellow nominees Olivia Colman, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman and Kristen Stewart. Leading up to the ceremony, Chastain won for the same role at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
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The film from director Michael Showalter tracks the rise, fall and redemption of televangelist Tammy Bakker. In the 1970s and 80s, Tammy Faye and her husband, Jim Bakker, played by Andrew Garfield, rose from humble beginnings to create the world’s largest religious broadcasting network and theme park, and were revered for their message of love, acceptance and prosperity. Faye was legendary for her indelible eyelashes, her idiosyncratic singing, and her eagerness to embrace people from all walks of life. However, it wasn’t long before financial improprieties, scheming rivals, and scandal toppled the couples’ carefully constructed empire.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye also received the Oscar for Makeup and Hairstyling.
During her acceptance speech, Chastain also thanked her agents, the creative team behind the film including Searchlight and co-star Andrew Garfield. She concluded her speech on an encouraging note.
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“For any of you out there who do in fact feel helpless or alone, I just want you to know that you are unconditionally loved for the uniqueness that is you,” she concluded.
The film is based from a script by Abe Sylvia. Chastain produces alongside Kelly Carmichael through their Freckle Films banner with Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane of MWM Studios. Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, and Meredith Milton will serve as executive producers as well as Jordana Mollick of Semi-Formal Productions and Adrian Adrian Alperovich from MWM Studios.
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The 94th Academy Awards were live and in-person at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood. The annual ceremony aired on ABC. Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes served as hosts.
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