Oprah Shares Support for Oscar Hopeful “Black Panther”

On Monday, members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences enjoyed a special screening of Marvel’s Black Panther. While around 100 members were in attendance, Oprah Winfrey was among them, and announced her support for the record breaking film.

What’s happening:

  • The Hollywood Reporter recently recapped an evening screening of Black Panther where more than 100 Academy members were present.
  • Among the industry professionals was one Oprah Winfrey, who shared her support for the Oscar hopeful film.
  • While her endorsement doesn’t guarantee that the film will come home with any prizes, she’s often a major influencer of public opinion, and showing strong support for the Black Panther could encourage other members to follow suit.
  •  THR points out that in this year where matters of race have be highlighted on the big screen, Winfrey could have backed any of a number of films including:
    • Green Book
    • BlacKkKlansman
    • If Beale Street Could Talk
    • Widows
    • Sorry to Bother You 
  • According to THR, Disney CEO Bob Iger and Winfrey have been friends for more than three decades. At his request, she agreed to share an email exchange between her and Iger following her viewing of the film.

What she’s saying:

  • Oprah Winfrey on Black Panther: "I just wanted to say that when I first saw Black Panther, I sent an email to my friend Bobby and said, 'Hi Bobby! Just saw it. It's worth everything I've heard and more. A phenomenon in every way, on every level. Makes me tear up to think that little black children will grow up with 'Wakanda forever.' It's game-changing, it's pride-making, it's dazzling, it's phenomenal.' That was my personal review."
  • Oprah Winfrey: "I also know that throngs and throngs and so many people came, and came with their families, and then they went back and they got more family members, and then they went back and told their coworkers and their friends, because everybody recognized that something bigger than a movie was happening up on that screen. We all knew — those of us who have come from the culture and the history — how lit it was. It just gave us life! It gave us life! But it was so affirming for everyone who saw it because you knew that it was bigger than this moment — it was a cultural happening — and just to be in the theater was to be a part of all of that."
  • Oprah Winfrey: "None of that could have happened without one man. You know, no matter how many thousands of people there are at Disney, the bottom line is, if he doesn't say 'yes,' it doesn't happen. I have admired and been a friend of Bob Iger's for a very long time, and am just so respectful of his leadership. And I know that this happened the way it happened because of his leadership, because he had the good sense to hire Ryan Coogler. And then to let him execute his vision. So we are thankful to you, Mr. Iger, for that."
  • Iger on Oprah’s support following her endorsement: "About two to three weeks ago…our studio asked me whether I would host a screening of Black Panther. I said, 'Sure, I would be glad to do that.' Then they said, 'Would you ask Oprah to join you?' Pause. 'Okay, I'll give it a shot.' So I emailed Oprah. She responded in 10 minutes. Now, Oprah and I have known each other for 30 years, and I am one of the more fortunate people in the world to consider Oprah a true friend….[S]he did not say 'yes' that fast because of me or because of our friendship. She said 'yes' that fast because of what she thought of this film."
  • Iger’s closing comments: “Now, in this case, we know Black Panther is both a creative and a commercial success. But, echoing what Oprah said, it was far more than that. The exhilaration that we all felt about this film was due to the fact that we believe it actually had an impact on the world. And it was because of boldness, daring to dream, defying conventional wisdom and, of course, putting it in the hands of an unbelievably gifted director, Ryan Coogler, who not only told a great story, but he brought an incredible vision to this film. That's why it became the phenomenon that it did, that's why it's had the impact on the world that it's had. And I'll leave you with this one adage, because Ryan Coogler exemplifies this adage, and that is, 'Extraordinary talent always trumps experience.' To Ryan Coogler and Black Panther, here's to you all!"

Marvel’s Black Panther has been submitted for Academy consideration in several categories. Nomination voting begins January 7, 2019 and concludes on January 14, 2019.