“King Richard” stars Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis win Santa Barbara Festival award – Deadline
EXCLUSIVE: Continuing the praise they’ve been getting since king richard debuted at the Telluride Film Festival over the Labor Day weekend, Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis were named recipients of the 37th annual Santa Barbara Film Festival Best Performer of the Year. This is the first of several honors announced by the festival, which has become a staple of the awards circuit, with their winners often going to the Oscar.
No specific date has yet been announced for the Smith and Ellis party, but it will take place between March 2 and 12, 2022, which are the official SBIFF dates. An on-stage conversation about their individual film careers will lead to the presentation.
“We are delighted to be able to greet the the incomparable Will Smith and the revealing Aunjanue Ellis with this price. The “doubles match” of their complex on-screen relationship as Richard and Oracene in king richard is electrifying and a joy to see, ”said Roger Durling, Executive Director of SBIFF.
KING Richard, that Warner Bros. releases in theaters and on HBO Max on November 19, is based on the true story that follows the journey of Richard Williams, an undeterred father who helped raise two of the most gifted athletes of all time, Venus and Serena Williams, and their triumphs in the tennis world.
Twice Oscar nominee Smith plays Richard. Ellis, a recent Emmy nominee for Lovecraft Country, rooms Oracene, girls’ mother. Driven by a clear vision of their future and using unconventional methods, Richard has a plan that will bring Venus (played by Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (played by Demi Singleton) from the streets of Compton, California to the world stage as icons.
The SBIFF Outstanding Performer of the Year Award recognizes selected individuals who distinguished themselves with outstanding performances in cinema last year. Previous recipients include Sacha Baron Cohen, Adam Driver, Rami Malek, Margot Robbie and Allison Janney, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, Brie Larson and Saoirse Ronan, Steve Carell, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Viola Davis, James Franco, Colin Firth, Penelope Cruz, Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren, Heath Ledger, Kate Winslet and Charlize Theron.
Official events, including screenings, filmmaker Q&A, industry panels and celebrity tributes, will take place across Santa Barbara for the festival, including at the historic Arlington Theater. This year’s full lineup will be announced in February.