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Black Talent Was On Full Display At The Star-Studded 2024 Oscar Nominees Luncheon

Black Talent Was On Full Display At The Star-Studded 2024 Oscar Nominees Luncheon

On February 12, 2024, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosted the Hollywood elite and glitterati for its annual Oscar nominees luncheon at The Beverly Hilton, and ESSENCE had a front-row seat to witness the brilliance of Black talent who’s nominated for Oscars this year, like Colman Domingo for Rustin, Jeffrey Wright for Performance by an actor in a leading role in American Fiction, Sterling K. Brown for American Fiction, Da’Vine Joy Randolph for The Holdovers, and Cord Jefferson, creator of American Fiction who’s nominated for best motion picture of the year. 

As guests were whisked from the foyer of the gorgeously designed hotel into the ballroom where the program was held, we saw notable Black actors celebrate amongst themselves and their peers like Steven Spielberg and Ryan Gosling, enjoying decadent crab cakes and Clarendelle wine, gleefully excited to be in the room. When we bumped into Brown before taking our seats to observe the program, he reflected on his journey as an actor humbly and being in the room with his esteemed peers and said to ESSENCE, “I’m feeling blessed and highly favored.” Although Brown doesn’t know if he’ll win for Performance as an actor in a supporting role for his riveting performance in American Fiction, he believes “being in the room where it happens and just being invited to the party” is good enough for him. 

After the mingling, networking, and pleasantries died down, it was time to start the program. We all mosied back to our seats to enjoy the vegan three-course meal, starting with antipasto platters with cheese, vegetables, and charcuterie. The main course featured King Oyster Mushroom “scallops” with wild mushroom risotto, roasted brussels sprouts, baby carrots, pea tendrils, and to round out the nutritious meal, we had a mixture of pineapple cake, banana creme brulee, featuring a strawberry gelee, pina colada mousse, and mango glaze. 

Next, the program began with a beautiful tribute to the Tongva native people. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences president Janet Yang delved into her remarks and mentioned that the Oscars, which will be held on Sunday, March 10, would start an hour earlier this year, at 7 p.m. E.T., causing the actors and actresses to laugh and sigh with relief. After the announcement, Yang congratulated the nominees, “I hope you’ve each taken time over the past few weeks to reflect on your achievements and absorb the feeling of being a part of this esteemed class of filmmakers. It might sound cliche, but it’s true to receive a nomination is an honor of the highest order, particularly because you were nominated,” she said to the crowd. She continued, “Your distinguished peers nominated you. This year, those who were nominated by Academy members around the world from 93 countries. And when I look around this ballroom, I can see how much that has contributed to such an incredibly talented global roster of nominees.” 

After her speech, we had the pleasure of viewing a montage of top Oscar moments from over the years, including the best acceptance speeches for this year’s nominees to gather inspiration from, like Ruth Carter accepting an Oscar for best costume design at the 95th Annual Academy Awards for her work on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. After the aspirational video, Yang returned to the platform to provide some helpful speech tips for the nominees, urging them to keep their speeches short, 45 seconds from when they reach the stage, and include their heartfelt remarks. 

To close out the program, it was time for the most anticipated moment of the afternoon: the yearly Oscar nominee’s group photo. To call the names on stage, the Academy granted the responsibility to Vice President of the Academy Board of Governors, Devon Franklin, who also serves as their Governor-at-Large and now runs his own production company, Franklin Entertainment. After the epic photo op and the program’s close, we caught up with Franklin to learn about the logistics for the luncheon and the energy within the room. “When you think about it, the degree of difficulty in execution in your craft, to even get a nomination for an Academy Award is an achievement in itself. So seeing all of these nominees from around the world being celebrated for their gift is amazing,” he said to ESSENCE. “The Academy staff is amazing. Because the executive Academy staff works tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the luncheon goes off smoothly.”

Black Talent Was On Full Display At The Star-Studded 2024 Oscar Nominees Luncheon

Regarding the diversity of the Oscar nominee class this year, he’s proud of the Academy’s progress. “I’m a Governor-at-Large for the Academy. I also chair the representation and inclusion committee, so diversity is significant to me. And when you look at the breadth and depth of nominees this year, it is awesome to see so much representation and inclusivity in the nominees, but we must do a lot more work. That’s why we’re not done yet, though. But this year, regarding nominations, it felt like we’re trending in the right direction.”

Similar to Brown, Franklin is just excited to be in the room. “I’m going to be honest with you, it’s amazing. Oscar night is just incredible. It’s such a blessing to be a Governor-at-Large and to serve the Academy and the Hollywood community,” he shared. 

Watch the 96th Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 10, on ABC.

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