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Golden Globes: Oprah, Sterling K. Brown make historic wins

by Karu F. Daniels /

Black excellence revealed itself in more ways than one at the 75th Golden Globe Awards Sunday night.

"Queen of All Media" Oprah Winfrey became the first black woman to win a prestigious Cecile B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement.

During her impassioned acceptance speech, Winfrey commemorated the life of civil rights figure Recy Taylor, who was abducted and raped by six white men in Alabama in 1944 and passed away in December at age 97.

“She lived, as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men,” she said. “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up.”

Past black recipients of the Cecile B. DeMille Award include Denzel Washington (2016), Morgan Freeman (2012) and Sidney Poitier (1982).

“This Is Us” star Sterling K. Brown became the first black man to win the award for best performance by an actor in a TV series drama. During his acceptance speech, Brown acknowledged and thanked “This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman for writing an authentic character.

“Throughout the majority of my career, I’ve benefited from colorblind casting, which means, ‘Hey, let’s throw a brother in this role. That’s always really cool,’” he said. “But Dan Fogelman, you wrote a role for a black man that can only be played by a black man. So what I appreciate so much about this thing is that I’m being seen for who I am and being appreciated for who I am. And it makes it that much more difficult to dismiss me or dismiss anybody who looks like me.”

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Black actors who have been nominated in the category in the past include Wentworth Miller for “Prison Break” (2006), James Earl Jones for “Gabriel’s Fire” (1991) and “Pros & Cons” (1992), and Philip Michael Thomas for “Miami Vice” (1986).

Sunday night was Brown’s first Golden Globe win. He was previously nominated for his work in the FX miniseries “The People V. O.J. Simpson.”

Jordan Peele’s directorial film debut, “Get Out,” was nominated for best musical or comedy, but lost to “Lady Bird.” Daniel Kaluuya, who stars in the film, was nominated for best actor, but also lost. Disappointed that the movie didn’t receive an award, some on social media said “Get Out” was snubbed.

With a budget of $4.5 million, the film grossed over $30 million during its’ opening weekend, ultimately tallying more than $175 million domestically. “Get Out” has also won several top prizes, including being named best film/picture by Boston Online Critics, Capri, Hollywood Film Festival and three 2017 Gotham Independent Film Awards.

R&B superstar Mary J. Blige was nominated for best performance by an actress in a supporting role for her critically acclaimed role in Dee Rees’ Netflix drama “Mudbound” alongside Octavia Spencer who was nominated for her role in "The Shape of Water." They both lost to Allison Janney for her work in “I, Tonya.”

Blige, who will be honored with a 2018 star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame on Jan. 11, was also nominated for best original song for “Mighty River” in “Mudbound,” co-penned with Raphael Saadiq and Taura Stinson. “This Is Me,” from “The Greatest Showman” written by Benji Pasek and Justin Paul, won for best original song.

Mariah Carey was also nominated in the category for co-writing the theme song (with Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award-winning composer Marc Shaiman) for the DeVon Franklin-produced faith-based animated feature “The Star.”

Many of the female entertainers in attendance wore black to symbolize solidarity with victims of sexual misconduct. On the red carpet, some were joined by women’s rights activists in a stand for empowerment and equality in support of the #MeToo movement. Some of the men wore Time's Up pins to help commemorate the evening’s overarching theme.

Golden Globe nominee Michelle Williams joined Me Too founder Tarana Burke during pre-show red carpet interview with NBC’s Natalie Morales and Carson Daly.

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“Me Too is really about everybody. And these women who work in Hollywood coming out and doing this Time’s Up initiative has been really spectacular to see,” Burke said. “And to join that with the work that we’re doing around Me Too has been really important and special because we want ultimately for women to know that we support them wherever they are.”

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