Celebrating Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s Oscar run

Da’Vne Joy Randolph has her moment in the spotlight. Randolph came home with the Academy Award for Actress in a Supporting Role for the character Mary Lamb in the acclaimed film “The Holdovers.” 

“God is so good. God is so good,” Randolph said during her acceptance speech. “You know, I — I didn’t think I was supposed to be doing this as a career. I started off as a singer. And my mother said to me, “Go across that street to that theater department. There’s something for you there.”

Robert Downey, Jr., Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Emma Stone, and Cillian Murphy pose backstage with the Oscar® for Actor/Actress in a Supporting Role and the Oscar® for Actor/Actress in a Leading Role during the live ABC telecast of the 96th Oscars® at Dolby® Theatre at Ovation Hollywood on Sunday, March 10, 2024.

“And I thank my mother for doing that. I thank you to all the people who have stepped in my path and has been there for me, who has ushered me and guided me. I am so grateful to all of you beautiful people out there,” she added. 

Some may be wondering where Randolph has come from. She’s been around the acting tree for a while now. Before playing a grief-stricken mother who manages a cafeteria at a boarding school, you can see Randolph in other highly-rated movies such as “Rustin” as the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson.

You can also see Randolph in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” and in the funny Eddie Murphy flick “Dolemite in My Name.” Her television credits include “Empire,” “The Last O.G.,” “Veep,” and “This is Us.” So she’s been around the block regarding flexing her acting chops. 

But by playing Lamb in “The Holdovers,” Randolph stretched her thespian muscles to their ultimate limits and walked away with an award so few individuals have been fortunate to have been selected for.  

“I pray to God that I get to do this more than once. I thank you for seeing me,” Randolph remarked as she wrapped up her acceptance speech. 

“The Holdovers” is about a teacher being forced to stay over the holidays at a boarding school to watch over some students. The disgruntled instructor winds up formulating a tight bond with an especially troubled student and Randolph’s character, Lamb, who loses her son in the Vietnam War. 

Backstage, Randolph was asked what it means as a Black actress to be seen and to pay it forward for others. 

“It’s imperative because the people who’ve done it before me allowed me to be in this position now,” Randolph said. “And so the type of work I do, my strive for authenticity, for quality allows there to be a new standard set where we can tell universal stories in black and brown bodies, and it can be accepted and enjoyed amongst the masses. It’s not just black TV or black movies or black people, but instead a universal performance that can be enjoyed by all.”    

Oscar® winner Da’Vine Joy Randolph attends the Governors Ball following the live ABC telecast of the 96th Oscars® at the Dolby® Theatre at Ovation Hollywood in Los Angeles, CA, on Sunday, March 10, 2024.

Randolph went on to talk about the importance for those practicing the arts in underserved communities to keep pushing and continue to create. 

?”Due to being undeserved and underserved communities, the beautiful thing that erupts is your imagination and your creativity because you don’t have much,” Randolph said. “And so you have this innate ability to create. That’s a gift, and that’s something that will serve you that when you do have the resources it’s easy.” 

“Something I think we as black people are very good at is making a lot out of very little, and I think that’s a super power and something that we should applaud ourselves for and uplift ourselves so there’s nothing that’s never too little. It’s always just enough,” she added. 

Da’Vine Joy Randolph poses backstage with the Oscar® for Actress in a Supporting Role during the live ABC telecast of the 96th Oscars® at Dolby® Theatre at Ovation Hollywood on Sunday, March 10, 2024.

For her role in “The Holdovers,” Randolph had to step out of her comfort zone a little bit to bring a real truth to her character. That meant dialing up the resources she already had at her disposal. That included wearing a pair of her grandmother’s glasses and utilizing other mementos, she said.  

?”It was crucial,” Randolph went to say. “I knew that this was going to be a difficult role for me to take on, and that it was going to require a lot of vulnerability from me. And I knew that she was just someone in my life that would allow me to get right back to the center. 

She continued, “And there was many women — I did a lot of research and did little subliminal messages, if you will, with hair-dos and details and accessories beyond the glasses, giving homage to women from the Jeffersons, Phyllis Hyman, stuff like that. So that I included all of these women who impressionized me, and so that people that knew-knew, and that meant a lot because it felt like a love letter back to black women.”

Top Image Caption: Da’Vine Joy Randolph accepts the Oscar® for Actress in a Supporting Role during the live ABC telecast of the 96th Oscars® at the Dolby® Theatre at Ovation Hollywood on Sunday, March 10, 2024.

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