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Watch Chadwick Boseman’s Widow Give a Powerful Golden Globes Acceptance Speech
At tonight’s Golden Globes, the late Chadwick Boseman won a posthumous award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama. Boseman won for his portrayal of the proud, talented, and troubled trumpet player Levee in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, beating out fellow nominees Gary Oldman, Riz Ahmed, Anthony Hopkins, and Tamar Rahim. His performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was his final film role.
Boseman’s widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully accepted the award on behalf of her late husband, who died at 43 last summer after a four-year battle with colon cancer, which he never made public.
Considering how her husband would accept the honor, Ledward said, “He would thank God. He would thank his parents. He would thank his ancestors for their guidance and their sacrifices. He would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells us you can, that tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history.”
Ledward listed the people Boseman would thank in his speech, including George C. Wolfe, Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Glynn Turman, Michael Potts, Colman Domingo, Taylour Paige, and Dusan Brown.
“I don’t have his words,” Ledward Boseman went on. “But we have to take all the moments to celebrate those we love. So thank you, HFPA, for this opportunity to do exactly that. And hon, you keep ‘em comin.”
Speaking to Esquire in December 2020, Boseman’s Ma Rainey costar, Colman Domingo, who wasn’t aware of Boseman’s illness, remembered a powerful moment on set when, following a blistering confrontation between their characters and a gutting monologue from Boseman, the two actors fell into each other’s arms and wept.
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“We want our characters to take over and also answer some questions in our hearts,” Domingo said. “Roles call on us because we need it to help us examine something in our lives. Now, I examine that text and what Chad was working through as a possible conflict in his heart and his mind of someone who is of tremendous faith. I feel like I would have questions of that faith if I was dealing with what Chad was dealing with. So I don’t want to say that that’s what he was dealing with, if that’s a question in the heart and in the mind while you’re wrestling with having this decimating disease and being a good person, being a person of faith. Like I’m telling him about Reverend Gates, ‘Here’s a man of faith who believed, and terrible things happened to him on God’s watch.’ It leaves that question looming in the air.”
To see Boseman honored for his towering final performance is a gratifying sight. There won’t be another one like him.
Adrienne Westenfeld is a writer and editor at Esquire, where she covers books and culture.
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