By Jessie Longsdon and Serina Auchstetter
On February 3, the Virtuoso award was held at the Arlington theatre as part of the SBIFF. Serina and I had the honor to go with Condor Press passes to see the event. We arrived at the theatre around 6:45 and got our passes from Mr. Shelton. We waited in a long line that we found out later was for people without the passes. Eventually we got into the theatre, found Gigi, and found seats in the middle of the entire theatre. The show began with an introduction speech and a short video showing clips of SB to welcome people to Santa Barbara.
The host, Dave Karger, began the interviews with Mary J. Blige. Mary was awarded for her role in Mudbound. It was shocking to see her come out on stage after watching a short clip of her movie because she looks totally different in real life. She talked about being in such an impacting movie and why she loved this part. She said that the movie had an important message that she was happy to be a part of portraying. Along with her great performance in Mudbound, she also was praised for her original song “Mighty River.” One highlight of her interview was when she announced she would be singing “Mighty River” on the upcoming Oscar Broadcast.
The next clip was of John Boyega’s role in Detroit. John Boyega is a beautiful man with a British accent that the crowd loved. He talked about being a younger actor and what that means to him. John shared that he loved Detroit because it deals with racial tension and a message that spoke to him. He was also asked how he brought the tears and shaking hands to his character and he said he simply had to tap into the emotions that the character would have been feeling.
Up next was Timothée Chalamet for his role in Call Me By Your Name. In the movie he plays a somewhat shy and serious teen boy, but on stage he is very dorky and funny with his creative answers. He had fun with his interview, being quite controversial they talked about some of the more embarrassing scenes in his movie and he fumbled to reply with “Finally! I had been waiting for this moment!” The crowd laughed and so did he.
The next on stage was Hong Chau. She was presented the Virtuoso award for her role in Downsizing. They showed a funny clip of her movie where she portrays a maid with a thick vietnamese accent. In real life, her accent is way less exaggerated and she looked stunning in a long ivory dress. She talked about how much she wanted this role and how she was “ready to cage fight” for it. She shared insight from the movie and how it was planned to be much weirder but lots of the strange scenes got cut. Her scenes remained, however, and she was highly recognized for her lovable character.
The fifth person on stage was Daniel Kaluuya. He was awarded for his leading role in Get Out. They showed a short clip from the movie where Daniel had an emotional talk with the mother in the movie. He talked about his struggle getting the role because he was an Englishman and Jordan Peeles saw the movie as “an African-American story”. Daniel proved that he was right for the movie by emphasizing the similarities of the cultures and joking about the population of his city.
The man who stole the show with his quick humor and hilarious answers was Kumail Nanjiani. He is a stand up comedian and knew just how to answer the questions that were thrown at him. He never ceased to make the audience laugh, being able to turn even boring questions into a joke. He talked about the process of writing The Big Sick with his wife and how they wanted to portray their story. Whether he was talking about the movie or cracking one-liners during the group interview, he sure was a highlight of the event.
After each individual interview, the crowd clapped again as every awarded actor and actress made their way back on stage. The seven actors and the host sat in a line on the stage and went down the line talking and answering questions. One question that sparked laughs from the audience talked about which character in Star Wars they would want to play. Timothée made a funny mistake in calling C3PO, R2D2. Everyone laughed and he blushed, sitting back in his seat. Hong Chau had another memorable answer when she said that her high pitched voice would be perfect to play the sound affects. “Pew pew!”
Another great question was asking what each actors go to impression was. Timothée recited an entire voicemail he had memorized. Kumail and Daniel laughed and joked with him about the fact that he had memorized a voicemail. John Boyega wowed the crowd with an unexpected and really good Pinocchio impression. Finally, Mary J. Blige shocked the audience with a hilarious and confusing impression of a girl asking for fries.
The Virtuosa Award 2018 was an amazing event full of great actors and colorful personalities. Congratulations to all those awarded on your great roles!