93rd Academy Awards 2021, a View From the Virtual Oscar Press Office

Oscars 2021-Reporting for Hollywood 360 Radio Network

Sunday, April 25, 2021, the day of the Academy Awards, began with a familiarity of anticipation that I have come to expect over the years—except this year was different, I was accepted to be a virtual member of the Oscars press. My day in New Buffalo, Michigan began by searching for a halo light to improve my Zoom video quality, and luck was on my side as I purchased one locally. The night before was spent rearranging furniture to prepare a suitable backdrop and workspace for an 8-hour stretch that encompassed viewing Red Carpet arrivals, Oscar-nominated song performances, interviewing winners, all while downloading photos, videos, and transcripts. By far, the most challenging job was toggling back and forth between the live Oscar show and the Oscar media room. All and all, the experience is one I will treasure, and I look forward to the day I will be able to report in Hollywood, California.

New Buffalo, Michigan–Lake Michigan sunset view, Saturday, April 24, 2021. Sarah Knight Adamson Photo Credit
Settling into the press room involved being on top of the situation and listening to instructions; we were guided like a well-oiled machine. I prepared questions for all 25 winners and delighted in hearing their answers as they spoke to the press. To experience their visual elation just moments after an Oscar win and to listen to their profound gratitude heightened my experience of viewing the Oscars all the years, as I’ve watched the show since I was ten years old while living in Los Angeles. Truly, this reporter felt a full-circle moment in my career, and I am grateful to be accepted among such esteemed journalists.
Sarah Knight Adamson, April 25, 2021

Protocol consisted of viewing a title card that announced who was stepping into the virtual press room, headphones were suggested as they reduced the chance of feedback. In terms of stepping, this is an accurate account as talent walked in front of an Oscar designed backdrop holding their Oscars and spoke to talent as they watched a large screen. The backdrop served two purposes, one for photos and speaking with press. Talent was announced, hands were raised, questions were asked. No follow-up questions were allowed, if your hand was raised and you were cued, and you were expected to ready to speak—while most importantly be in front of your camera and ready to go.

The winners have been announced for some time now. My Hollywood 360 Radio Network segment this Saturday night will cover a snapshot of my reporting, snippets of transcribed Oscar acceptance speeches, Oscar press room questions, and answers, along with standout highlights of the Oscar show and the backstage interviews.

Daniel Kaluuya, Best Supporting Actor for “Judas and the Black Messiah

Daniel Kaluuya won early in the evening, taking home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for “Judas and the Black Messiah.” He gave a heartfelt acceptance speech thanking God, his mom, and his family. Here is a segment of his speech that focuses on the film:

“Chairman Fred Junior and Mama Akua, thank you so much for allowing us into your life and into your story. Thank you for trusting us with your truth. I appreciate you deeply, and it’s an honor to partner up and stand side by side with you. And to Chairman Fred Hampton. Bro, man. Man, what a man. He was on this earth for 21 years, and he found a way to feed kids breakfast, educate kids, give free medical care, against all the odds. He showed me, he taught me him. Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, the Black Panther Party. They showed me how to love myself. And with that love, they overflowed into the black community and into other communities. And they showed us that the power of union, the power of unity, that when they play divide and conquer, we say unite and ascend.

Thank you so much for showing me myself. And yeah, man, there’s so much work to do guys, and that’s on everyone in this room, this ain’t no single man job. I look at this room, and I look at everyone, every single one of you, you got work to do, you know what I’m saying.”

Red Carpet arrivals Oscars 2021 Chole Zhao writer/directer Nomadland and Joshua James Richards, Cinematographer: Nomadland.

“Nomadland” the big winner of the evening, taking home the Best Picture, Best Director, and the Best Actress Oscars. Writer/director/producer Chole Zhao, appeared in the press room numerous times.

Here is a question that was asked after she won Best Director:

Q. Talk to me about all of this history coming your way all at once. How does it feel? I mean, you have literally smashed this glass ceiling that we often talk about. Tell me about what’s coursing through your veins right now.

A. Well, you know, I feel I’m very lucky I have parents who have always told me that who you are is enough, you know, and who I who you are is your art, you know? So I always try to stay true to myself and be surrounded by really great, supportive, talented people, so I really share this moment with them.

“Minari” Yuh-Jung Young, Best Supporting Actress winner. Director Lee Isaac Chung Credit: Courtesy of A24

Yuh-Jung Youn, the feisty grandmother in Minari, captured not only her grandson’s heart in the film she went home with an Oscar for her Best Supporting Actress role. Brad Pitt presented her the award as he was a producer of the film. Youn said in her acceptance speech that she does not believe in competition; she does not believe that her performance is better than Glen Close or the other nominees. Here are a few questions she answered in the press room.

Brad Pitt, right, poses with Yuh-Jung Youn, winner of the award for best actress in a supporting role for “Minari,” in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Q. Congratulations on such a historic win. You created the Oscar-winning grandma. What was the biggest challenge you faced in your acting career, and what did you get from (inaudible)?

A. Well, it’s not happened right at the moment because I had a long career. I’m trying to do my career, you know, step by step. And just sometimes it’s happy, very happy, when you get it. But for me, myself, I don’t believe in competition, especially in our field, because we are comparing a different movie. I’m just lucky tonight, just luckier than the other nominees, luckier than them. And maybe, who knows, it’s American hospitality for the Korean actor, I think.

Q. Congratulations on your win tonight. Brad Pitt was a producer on Minari, and you just met him for the first time. What was that like, and if you could do a movie with him, what genre would you choose?

A. That will never happen with my English and age, you know. I don’t think so, no.

Makeup and Hairstyling won the Oscar for the film “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, that consisted of fitting actress Viola Davis with a full set of gold teeth. Mia Neal’s acceptance speech spoke to people of color and their representation in the future.

Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson are the first Black women to win in the Hair and Makeup category. Makeup artist Sergio Lopez-Rivera also won.

“I was raised by my grandfather, James Holland. He was an original Tuskegee Airman. He represented the U.S. in the first Pan Am Games. He went to Argentina. He met Evita. He graduated from Northwestern University at the time that they did not allow Blacks to stay on campus, so he stayed at the YMCA. And after all of his accomplishments, he went back to his hometown in hopes of becoming a teacher. But they did not hire Blacks in the school system. So I want to say thank you to our ancestors who put the work in, were denied but never gave up.

And I also stand here as Jamika and I break this glass ceiling with so much excitement for the future. Because I can picture Black trans women standing up here and Asian sisters and our Latino sisters and indigenous women. And I know that one day it won’t be unusual or groundbreaking; it will just be normal. Thank you to the Academy, to Netflix, to Denzel Washington, to George C. Wolfe, to Ann Roth, to Miss Viola Davis, to Matiki Anoff, to Andrea Resnick, to the spirit of Ma Rainey. Thank you.”

Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman” wins Best Original Screenplay

The Best Original Screenplay Oscar went to Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman” she started by saying, “I didn’t think I was going to win, so I don’t have a speech prepared, and I’m going to be in trouble with Steven Soderbergh [Oscar Producer]. I’m so sorry; I don’t want him to be cross with me.”

She continued, “This film was made by the most incredible people in the world, who made it in 23 days. They brought their complete genius and love and humor to it. And I have so many people to thank. I feel mortified that I’m here by myself when it’s not just my job at all. I want to thank Carey Mulligan for being not only the most talented person in the world but the kindest and funniest. I want to thank the producers for standing behind this film always and, you know, never giving up, and Lucky Chap, Focus, FilmNation. The cast and the crew, the greatest in the world, the kindest in the world. They just made me look good, and again, I’m just so grateful. And finally: my family, Mom, Dad, Coco, my husband Chris and our son.

Fennell’s Press Room Question:

Q. Congratulations. I am just so happy for you and proud of you. And you described this film as a “poison popcorn film.” Can you explain what that means exactly? And will you continue to make these “poison popcorn” movies?

A. I don’t know. I think I always hoped to make something that people would want to go and see that even if it’s about something difficult and troubling, that it would still be a movie that you would go and watch with your friends, with your boyfriend, and you would talk about it afterward. And so, part of it was that felt kind of glossy and feminine and poppy and that, yeah, but it was disgusting, some very difficult and dark subject matter. I think probably that is something I will do in the future a little bit.

Tyler Perry, 2021 recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award

In perhaps the evening’s highlight, the Academy recognized Tyler Perry’s work by honoring him with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. The honor is given out periodically to an “individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.” An outstanding video explained his cause and documented his wonderful work.
Viola Davis, who collaborated with Perry on the 2009 film “Madea Goes to Jail,” presented the award.

In his stirring speech, Perry recalled a story about helping a woman in need buy a pair of shoes and how it served as a lesson in withholding judgment. “I want to take this Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and dedicate it to anyone who wants to stand in the middle,” he concluded, “… because that’s where healing happens, that’s where conversation happens, that’s where change happens. It happens in the middle. So anyone who wants to meet me in the middle, to refuse hate, to refuse blanket judgment, and help lift someone’s feet off the ground, this one’s for you, too.”

Press Room Questions:

Q. Congratulations. Your speech was just incredible. It was maybe the most moving moment of the night. You mentioned your mother a lot in that speech and what she taught you. Did you sense, as you were talking up there, that maybe she’s shined down, smiling down on you as you were able to deliver that message that she first gave you?

A. You know, I could feel her in the moment. I could feel her. Any time I’m up there, I’m carrying her with me in all she went through and all we went through together. You are absolutely right about that.

Q. I wanted to ask you what inspired you to share such a personal story?

A. Just where we are in the country and the world, and everybody is grabbing a corner and a color, and they are all nobody wants to come to the middle to have a conversation. Everybody is polarized, and it’s in the middle where things change. So I’m hoping that that inspires people to meet us in the middle so that we can get back to some semblance of normal. As this pandemic is over, we can get to a place where we are showing love and kindness to each other again.

Olivia Coleman and Anthony Hopkins “The Father” Sony USA

Anthony Hopkins was the last award of the night presented for Best Actor, and he was over the pond in Wales, at that moment although he posted to his Instagram account a heartfelt thank you the following day:

“At 83 years of age, I did not expect to get this award; I really didn’t,” said Hopkins in the Instagram video, standing in the beautiful Welsh countryside. He thanked the Academy and “paid tribute” to the late Chadwick Boseman, who “was taken from us far too early.” He also thanked the director and screenwriter of “The Father,” Florian Zeller, who, earlier in the evening, for Best Adapted screenplay. His thanks continued with Sony Pictures Classics, UTA, his team, his wife, Stella Arroyave, and his family. He ended by saying, “Again, thank you all very much. I really did not expect this, so I feel very privileged and honored. Thank you.”

Frances McDormand in “Nomadland” Searchlight Pictures

Frances McDormand won the Best Actress award, playing a nomad who hits the road after her small-town plant closes in the film “Nomadland.” Her third win; she ties Meryl Streep and Ingrid Bergman, who have three each, with the current record-holder, Katharine Hepburn, who has four. She quoted the Shakespeare play “Macbeth,” saying, “I have no words: my voice is in my sword. We know the sword is our work, and I like work. Thank you for knowing that, and thanks for this.” She then began to raise her head to the ceiling and howl, paying tribute to the “Nomandland” production sound mixer Michael Snyder, who died March of this year.

Scottsbluff, Nebraska is a filming location in the film “Nomadland” Scotts Bluff Monument sunset through Mitchell Pass. NPS Photo / Poffenberger


Sarah Knight Adamson, 16 years, Scottsbluff High School, Sweet 16 Pom Squad, Scottsbluff, Nebraska

For a 16-year-old living at the time in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, with dreams of attending the Academy Awards, fast-forward to 2021, I can say my Oscar press experience was not far off the mark, the behind the scenes press room allowed me to learn the mechanics of the show, along with tapping into the emotions of the victors. I am grateful for the opportunity.

What a fortuitous circumstance that my High School city of Scottsbluff, Nebraska (Go Bearcats!) was a key location in the filming of the Best Picture, “Nomadland.” We lived 12 miles outside of the city in the country; our large front bay window view was of the stunning Scotts Bluff Monument. Our home was surrounded by beet and corn fields that, at times, were swarming with farmworkers hand-picking the crops and tending the fields. Yes, I can relate to the term ‘nomad’ as I witnessed first-hand the families that came and left from our city and schools over my five years there. In fact, I overheard after a climb (800 feet above the North Platte River) up the Bluff (as locals refer to the Scotts Bluff Monument), during a High School reunion one of my classmates showing his wife where he and his family worked, he said while pointing down, “See that farm over there to the left, yep, that’s God’s country.”

My question to director Chole Zhao would have started with a thank you for capturing the Nebraska plains so beautifully, and I would have asked her what she enjoyed most about her visit to the picturesque area.

Sarah Knight Adamson© April 29, 2021



List of the 93rd Academy Award Nominees and Winners

Best Picture

The Father

Judas and the Black Messiah




Promising Young Woman

Sound of Metal

The Trial of the Chicago 7


Best Actor

 Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal

 Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

 Anthony Hopkins, The Father

 Gary Oldman, Mank

 Steven Yeun, Minari


Best Actress

 Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

 Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday

 Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman

 Frances McDormand, Nomadland

 Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman


Best Director

 Lee Isaac Chung, Minari

 Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman

 David Fincher, Mank

 Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round

 Chloé Zhao, Nomadland


Best Supporting Actress

 Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

 Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy

 Olivia Colman, The Father

 Amanda Seyfried, Mank

 Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari


Best Supporting Actor

 Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7

 Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

Leslie Odom Jr., One Night in Miami

 Paul Raci, Sound of Metal

 Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah


Best International Feature

 Another Round

 Better Days


 The Man Who Sold His Skin

 Quo Vadis, Aida?


Best Animated Feature


 Over the Moon

 Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon 




Best Documentary Feature


 Crip Camp

 The Mole Agent

 My Octopus Teacher



Best Original Score

 Da 5 Bloods



 News of the World



Best Original Song

 “Fight for You,” Judas and the Black Messiah

 “Hear My Voice,” The Trial of the Chicago 7

 “Husavik,” Eurovision Song Contest

 “Io Si (Seen),” The Life Ahead

 “Speak Now,” One Night in Miami


Best Original Screenplay

 Judas and the Black Messiah


 Promising Young Woman

 Sound of Metal

 The Trial of the Chicago 7


Best Adapted Screenplay

 Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

 The Father


 One Night in Miami

 The White Tiger


Best Cinematography

 Judas and the Black Messiah


 News of the World


 The Trial of the Chicago 7


Best Makeup and Hairstyling


 Hillbilly Elegy

 Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom




Best Costume Design


 Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom





Best Film Editing

 The Father


 Promising Young Woman

 Sound of Metal

 The Trial of the Chicago 7


Best Sound



 News of the World


 Sound of Metal


Best Live-Action Short

 Feeling Through

 The Letter Room

 The Present

Two Distant Strangers

 White Eye


Best Animated Short


 Genius Loci

 If Anything Happens I Love You




Best Documentary Short


 A Concerto is a Conversation

 Do Not Split

 Hunger Ward

 A Love Song for Latasha


Best Visual Effects

 Love and Monsters

 The Midnight Sky


 The One and Only Ivan



Best Production Design

 The Father 

 Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom


 News of the World