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‘King Richard’ Star Aunjanue Ellis Discusses First Special Oscar Nomination


LOS ANGELES, Calif. — After a more subdued Oscars ceremony last year, Hollywood is looking to party this weekend — back on the red carpet and back in person. It should be “something to have fun with,” says Oscars producer Will Packer. However, behind the show hide very real human stories.

A day before the Oscars, everything on Hollywood Boulevard says “this is a big deal,” but for the nominees, it’s even more intense.

Sandy Kenyon takes viewers down the Oscars red carpet

Will Smith is in the running for the first time in 15 years, and his co-star Aunjanue Ellis? She is in the running for the first time.

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Ellis is the glamorous toast of town, recognized by the Motion Picture Academy and by Essence Magazine.

“I absolutely support Aunjanue Ellis. You know she’s also one of our nominees for Black Women in Hollywood this year,” said Brande Victorian, editor-in-chief of Essence.

Nominated after Ellis worked to make Venus and Serena Williams’ mother a richer, three-dimensional character.

Ellis was born into poverty.

“My grandmother had to use food stamps to feed me,” she says.

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She later spent decades jumping from job to job as an actress to earn a living, but she was little known.

“I had completely given up on that. I had made my peace about it and was moving on with my life, when suddenly, two years ago, that all changed,” Ellis added.

Now she’s joining her co-star at the Oscar nominees luncheon and wondering how to stay realistic on the big day.

“I’ve been on red carpets before, and I made sure to say something that I believed in, you know what I mean? Just things like that,” she said.

Ellis says she thinks it’s sweeter because it’s happening right now after working out consistently for so long.

“And I think that’s because I had decided that none of this was going to happen at all and I was okay with that. I wouldn’t have enjoyed that so much ten years ago, you see what I mean? The fruit would be ‘it’s been that nice for me,'” Ellis said.

So sweet – and win or lose, Ellis is going to savor this moment right now.

It’s all the sweeter considering that filming on ‘King Richard’ had to be halted during the pandemic and she once feared it could never resume.

“I find myself with my focus on the hearts and experience of people around me rather than whether my name is called or not,” she said.

Mark your calendar: March 27 is Oscar Sunday. Special “On the Red Carpet” coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET 10 a.m. PT and continues all day until the 94th Academy Awards. After the final award ceremony, stick with “On The Red Carpet” for continued coverage. Be sure to follow @OnTheRedCarpet on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok for all your Oscars news and information. Click here to download our CTV apps to watch “On The Red Carpet” wherever you are.

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