Kaluuya delivered an emotional acceptance speech, in which he thanked “the gift that is LaKeith Stanfield.” He also shouted out Hampton and the Black Panther Party for showing him how to “love” himself.
“How blessed we are that we lived in a lifetime where he existed, do you know what I’m saying?” Kaluuya said. “I, like, thank you for your light. He was on this earth for 21 years, 21 years, and he found a way to feed kids, breakfast, educate kids, give free medical care, against all the odds.”
You can watch his full acceptance speech up top.
Earlier this year, the appearance of both Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield in the Supporting Actor category caused confusion, with many understandably wondering who, exactly, the Academy considered to be the lead of the film which depicts the events leading up to the murder of Hampton.
In a since-removed Instagram post, Stanfield himself weighed in on the questions, saying he was “confused too but fuck it lmao.”
In an interview back in February conducted as part of Complex’s Judas Week series, Kaluuya and Stanfield’s co-star Dominique Fishback—who portrays Hampton’s partner Deborah Johnson (now known as Akua Njeri) in the film—reflected on how she was hand-delivered the role by King.
“Daniel and LaKeith were already attached and he was trying to get Jesse Plemons,” Fishback said at the time. “I was just like, ‘That’s a dope cast, I would love to be a part of that.’ He said, ‘Take the script and let me know what you think.’ I took the script and I read it, and I gave him a whole long email about all of the things that I loved.”
And in a separate interview with Khal for Complex, Kenny and Keith Lucas—who were nominated this year for Best Original Screenplay for their work on Judas—detailed how Kaluuya and Stanfield both ended up leading the historical drama.
“The first guy, William O’Neal, was LaKeith [Stanfield],” Keith Lucas told Complex in February. “We all agreed immediately, LaKeith is going to be William. Shaka was convinced that Kaluuya needed to be Hampton. Initially, we didn’t have a person in mind, but once he said “Kaluuya” we were like, “Oh yeah, of course. He can bring that energy that we need.”