Aunjanue Ellis on His Career, ‘King Richard’ Oscar Nomination



Aunjanue Ellis was so nervous about Oscar nomination morning, so scared she would disappoint her loved ones if she wasn’t nominated for her role in King Richard, she turned off her phone. And it wasn’t just for the morning, but all day and most of the night. She actually cleaned the house, read books, was alone until 11 p.m., when she finally turned her phone back on and found about 200 messages. Yes, she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress and was pretty much the last person in the world to know.

This is just one of the stories she tells me for this edition of my Deadline The Actor’s Side video series.. Before the question of being nominated for her role as Oracene, mother of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams, and wife of Richard (played by fellow Oscar nominee Will Smith), she was just celebrating the miracle that the film would even be finished after the pandemic halted production. It obviously was, and now it’s also for Best Picture.

Ellis is a seasoned actress whose career is suddenly launched with numerous nominations and victory from the National Board of Review for her performance, as well as recent Emmy Award nominations for When they see us and Lovecraft Country. That’s all been a long time coming, though this star is no stranger to high-profile Oscar- and Emmy-winning projects like Help, Ray, if Beale Street could talk and much more.

Over a long career, she’s played Denzel’s wife, Sam Jackson’s daughter, Nate Parker’s mother, and all sorts of roles. But now she tells me she just wanna be her own person on screen, and with that kind of momentum, you can bet she will.

Watch our chat above to get Aunjanue Ellis’ “acting side”.


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