‘Awards Chatter’ Podcast — Angela Bassett (‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’)

Angela Bassett, the guest on this episode of The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast, is widely regarded as one of the greatest actresses of her generation. She was nominated 29 years ago for the best actress Oscar for her portrayal of Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do with It, making her the only Black person nominated for the best actress Oscar in the 1990s, and she is nominated this year for the best supporting actress Oscar her portrayal of Queen Ramonda in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, making her only the fourth Black actress who has received more than one acting Oscar nomination, and the first person ever nominated for a performance in a Marvel movie.

Of Bassett — who has also won two Golden Globe Awards, for the aforementioned two films, and has been nominated for seven Primetime Emmy Awards, for a variety of programs — Time film critic Richard Corliss wrote in 1998, “Some folks have it, some don’t. [She] does. She animates and elevates her roles with fire, precision and suavity.” Film historian Donald Bogle said in 2002, “[She] very much reminds me of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, women who commanded your attention in a film even when their mouths were closed.” And Emmy-winning writer-actress Lena Waithe opined in 2017, “[She] is a freaking legend. Without [her], there is no Viola Davis. Without [her], there is no Halle Berry. She’s the one who came in and did things Meryl Streep was doing, as a Black actress.”

More from The Hollywood Reporter

Over the course of a conversation at the Belmond El Encanto hotel in Santa Barbara, ahead of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s presentation to her of its Montecito Award, the 64-year-old reflected on her path from St. Petersburg, Florida, to the Yale School of Drama to Broadway to Hollywood; the early roles that established her as one of the top talents in the business, in John Singleton’s Boyz N the Hood in 1991, Spike Lee’s Malcolm X in 1992 and Brian Gibson’s aforementioned What’s Love Got to Do With It in 1993; and the ups and downs that followed over the next three decades. Indeed, after years of additional strong work in films like Forest Whitaker’s Waiting to Exhale in 1995, Kevin Rodney Sullivan’s How Stella Got Her Groove Back in 1998 and Doug Atchison’s Akeelah and the Bee in 2006, she is finally getting her due — and may finally take home an Oscar — for her portrayal in a blockbuster as, appropriately enough, a queen.

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