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Da’Vine Joy Randolph Wins Oscar for Best Supporting Actress

Backstage at the Independent Spirit Awards on February 25, Da’Vine Joy Randolph told reporters she wasn’t counting on anything major this Oscars weekend: “I’m not expecting anything,” Randolph said when asked about her Oscar chances. “I’m not betting on anything. I’m just happy to be invited into the building. To me, I’ve already won, because I’ve gained the respect of you guys. That’s what matters to me the most.”

A lovely sentiment, but it became Oscar official on Sunday evening when Randolph won the 2024 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Mary Lamb in “The Holdovers,” a cook at a private school in the 1970s dealing with the recent death of her son in Vietnam.

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Co-starring Paul Giamatti (who is also nominated tonight) and Dominic Sessa, the true three-hander from Alexander Payne is nominated for a total of five Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay (David Hemingson), and Best Film Editing (Kevin Tent) at the 2024 ceremony. The film premiered at the 2023 Telluride Film Festival, and enjoyed a robust festival run, followed by a limited release from Focus Features that maintained momentum throughout the wilds of awards season.

Randolph’s performance beat out fellow Supporting Actress nominees America Ferrera (“Barbie”), Danielle Brooks (“The Color Purple”), Emily Blunt (“Oppenheimer”), and Jodie Foster (“Nyad”).

Randolph already had an incredible run on the awards trail prior to her Sunday win, picking up nearly every precursor to get to this point, including back-to-back wins at the Independent Spirit Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. She also scored wins at the Critics Choice Awards and from a variety of local film festivals and critics group for her performance.

In his review of “The Holdovers,” IndieWire’s David Ehrlich called her performance “extraordinary” noting “[her] flawless performance balances hope and heartache with a precision missing from the rest of the film.”

Speaking with IndieWire prior to any of her big wins, Randolph said of the potential Oscar conversation around her performance: “You never know. You don’t do it for that, but you definitely try your darndest. I, at least, do, as if every one could be that one. And it’s just that crazy minutiae of the industry where it’s just not in your control. … Maybe what the difference with this one more than others is, quite honestly, the quality of work, and people being able to see me. There is definitely the Alexander Payne factor, to be completely transparent.”

Randolph highlighted her pride that Mary Lamb was a distinct person, not a stereotype. “I don’t look at myself as the help. I run it,” she said. “As a Black woman being able to have candid, frank conversations with a straight white male. What? That’s epic, to be like, ‘You’re an asshole,’ in 1969-1970 Boston. Where they doing that at?”

Her win makes her the tenth Black woman to win in the category. Prior to her work on “The Holdovers,” Randolph was seen in films such as “Dolemite Is My Name,” “Rustin” (also nominated for a number of Oscars at this year’s Academy Awards), and “On the Come Up.” TV fans likely recognize her for her recurring role as Detective Williams on “Only Murders in the Building,” as well as shows like “The Last O.G.,” and “High Fidelity.”

“I never did this movie and was like, “Yup, and it’s going to get mad awards,” Randolph told BuzzFeed. “No, especially since it’s independent. However, this moment is something that I’ve wanted, my work being seen by the masses. I think there’s been in times before certain sects of people or demographics have seen my work here and there but this is the first time that the masses have seen and it’s been something I’ve been waiting for and hoping for. Manifesting is everything. … I’m always planning 1000 steps. I think the biggest thing is consistency and this is to now be the new bar that’s set for how I operate on several levels. Making it very clear to my team and those around me the type of work I want to continue to do. If anything I hope that this opens doors so I can continue to work at this level of proficiency.”

Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the 2024 Oscars aired on ABC live from Los Angeles on March 10. Alongside “The Holdovers” the other eight films nominated for Best Picture are “American Fiction,” “The Zone of Interest,” “Barbie,” “Oppenheimer,” “Poor Things,” “Past Lives,” “Anatomy of a Fall,” “Maestro,” and “Killers of the Flower Moon,” with “Oppenheimer” the heavy favorite to take home Best Picture.

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