Read Regina King’s poignant speech that just opened the 2021 Oscars

"One Night in Miami..." director Regina King opened the 2021 Oscars ceremony.
(Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)

The 2021 Oscars ceremony is already an awards show like no other.

Without a host for the third year in a row, the 93rd Academy Awards has officially begun Sunday at Los Angeles’ Union Station. Yep, you read that correctly. This year’s mid-pandemic show is being held at a train station, in addition to Hollywood’s tried-and-true Dolby Theatre.

Billed by producers as an “awards-show-as-a-movie approach,” the broadcast kicked off like the opening titles of a Hollywood film, starring Oscar winner Regina King. In a winged, silver gown, the “One Night in Miami ...” director strutted through the lobby of Union Station, Oscar trophy in hand, before arriving at her destination: a small stage amid a sea of nominees seated at candlelit tables.

“It has been quite a year, and we are still smack dab in the middle of it,” King said, beginning her poignant monologue with a reference to the recent conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty last week of murdering George Floyd.

“We are mourning the loss of so many. And I have to be honest, if things had gone differently this past week in Minneapolis, I might have traded in my heels for marching boots. I know that a lot of you people at home want to reach for your remote, when you feel like Hollywood is preaching to you, but as a mother of a Black son, I know the fear that so many live with, and no amount of fame or fortune changes that.”


The actress and filmmaker proceeded to shout out many of the night’s nominees, including her feature directorial debut, which is nominated in three categories. Among the top nominees are David Fincher’s “Mank,” Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland” and Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari.”

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April 25, 2021

“Tonight, we are here to celebrate,” King continued. “This was indeed a hard year for everyone, but our love of movies helped to get us through. It made us feel less isolated and connected us when we were apart. ...

“Tonight, you are going to meet a creative family of storytellers. You’ll hear tales of how they fell in love with movies and how that movie love connects them to the films we are here to honor tonight.”

Also notable this year are the nominations, which recognized the most diverse group of artists in Oscars history. For the first time ever, two women — Zhao and Emerald Fennell — are nominated for best director for their respective work on “Nomadland” and “Promising Young Woman.” Zhao, who is of Chinese descent, is also the first woman of color to be nominated in the directing bracket.


History was also made in the acting categories: Steven Yeun (“Minari”) is the first Asian American to be nominated for lead actor, while Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”) is the first Muslim and first person of Pakistani descent to be recognized in the same field. Shaka King’s “Judas and the Black Messiah” also stands out this year as the first best picture nominee with an all-Black producing team.

The live Oscars telecast is scheduled to run from 5 to 8 p.m. Pacific on ABC.

Times intern Angie Orellana Hernandez contributed to this report.