Regina King Opens Oscars 2021 With Reference To Chauvin Verdict: “I Might Have Traded My Heels For Marching Boots”

Regina King Oscars
Todd Wawrychuk/AMPAS

UPDATE, with video Actress and director Regina King opened tonight’s 93rd Academy Awards with a reference to this week’s guilty verdicts against Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd: “I have to be honest,” King said, “if things had gone differently this past week in Minneapolis, I might have traded my heels for marching boots.”

King, whose directorial debut One Night in Miami… was up for three Oscars tonight, opened the broadcast with a long, tracking-shot walk through L.A. Union Station, one of the locations of this year’s ceremony. King, the opening presenter, was followed by a camera as she walked through the train station to take the stage and introduce the year’s screenwriting nominees.

“I know many of you want to reach for your remotes when you feel Hollywood is preaching to you,” King said, “but as the mother of a black son, I know the fear that so many live with, and no amount of fame or fortune changes that.”

King then described the Covid ground rules for tonight’s event: Masks will be worn off camera, audience members are socially distanced, the usual protocols are in place and everyone’s been tested and tested again.

The introduction was brief, and King quickly moved on to presenting the first award.

In recent weeks, Oscar producers Steven Soderbergh, Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins have been promising what Soderbergh called a doozy of an opening that would make viewers “knees buckle.” The idea apparently was to create an introductory 90 seconds that would announce a celebration of large-than-life Hollywood as a contrast to the Zoom Age restrictions of the past year.

“It’s the f*cking Oscars,” Soderbergh told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s not a webinar.”

To that end, tonight’s show opened with that tracking shot and movie-style credits – “Starring Brad Pitt,” for example – and featured a visual look more film-like than video, an approach that did indeed suggest cinema but perhaps at the cost of the live, you-are-there ambience of video.

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