UPDATED with speech video: Regina King’s award-season winning streak has culminated in an Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress for Barry Jenkins and Annapurna Pictures’ If Beale Street Could Talk. The first-time nominee beat out formidable opponents Amy Adams (Vice), Rachel Weisz (The Favourite) Marina de Tavira (Roma) and Emma Stone (The Favourite).
King won for her highly emotive performance in Jenkins’ James Baldwin adaptation, which shines a glaring spotlight on the issue of mass incarceration in the black community. Set in Harlem in the early 1970s, the film also stars KiKi Layne as 19-year-old Tish Rivers, engaged to an artist, Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt (Stephan James), who is arrested for a crime he did not commit.
King played Tish’s mother, who desperately seeks to prove the innocence of her daughter’s child’s father.
“To be standing here representing one of the greatest artists of our time James Baldwin is a little surreal,” said a teary-eyed King in her acceptance speech Sunday night.
“James Baldwin birth this baby and Barry you nurtured her, surrounded her with some much love and support. So it’s appropriate for me to be standing here because I’m an example of some when support and love is poured into someone.”
King was the frontrunner in the category, having been feted throughout this season with awards including the Golden Globes, Indie Spirits, and Critics’ Choice among others.
“My sisters in art… it’s been an honor to have my name just said with yours the whole step of the way,” King said, acknowledging her fellow nominees. “It’s been pretty amazing.”
It’s worth noting that King becomes the eighth African American actress to take home the statuette in this category, joining the ranks of women like Hattie McDaniel (the first Black woman to win), Whoopi Goldberg, Octavia Spencer, and Viola Davis.
“I feel like I’ve had so many women that paved the way, are paving the way,” King said backstage. “I feel like I walk in their light, and I also am creating my own light, and there are young women who will walk in the light that I’m continuing to shine and expand from those women before me.”
Matt Grobar contributed to this report.