On Sunday afternoon January 17, 2016 stars of film and television alike gathered in an airplane hangar in Santa Monica, CA to honor the past year’s achievements of the women and men in both these fields. In true Hollywood fashion, in order to access said venue, these talented people had to traverse a press line spanning the length of a glamorous red carpet.
Except the carpet was actually blue, a color that seemed to permeate the 2016 Critics’ Choice Awards in everything from the decor, the lighting, the text color on the step and repeat, and even the gown worn by Samantha Harris as she hosted A&E’s live coverage of the event. Situated about ten feet from the broadcast stage, and directly across from the iPad the crew had set up for Twitter-selfie purposes, I was in prime viewing territory for backs of of celebrities’ dresses.
In addition to emphatically agreeing with ‘Best Guest Actress’ winner Margo Martindale (The Good Wife) that I love Los Angeles because “the weather is amazing”, and sharing a moment of meaningful eye contact with presenter Hayden Panettierre as she hilariously endeavored to produce German phrases for the foreign press, I was absolutely delighted to see a couple of very familiar faces on the carpet, YouTube sensations Katie Wilson and Andre “Black Nerd” Meadows who both expressed their enthusiasm for the sheer number of awards to be presented.
“They’ve got a SciFi/Horror category,” said Wilson, “that’s where I want to be!”
Meadows added, “This is the first awards show where I can literally say there are multiple nominations for Jurassic World – that’s something I’m never gonna get to say again.”
While they agreed that the genre categories were a nice addition overall, what they liked most about them was the opportunity they provided for a more diverse group of actors and creators to be recognized.
“I’m super excited for ‘Best Ensemble’ and I really hope Straight Outta Compton gets it. It’s a great movie and I’m glad it got some recognition in this one,” said Andre. “It’s just nice to see so much different representation in this award show.”
Katie added, “I love that they have a young actor/actress category as well. And I was so happy that the little boy from Room was nominated because his performance in that movie was so remarkable.”
Speaking of young actors, I had the chance to speak the adorable Alyvia Alyn Lind, who was actually nominated not in the Young Actors category but alongside the likes of Kathy Bates, Rachel McAdams and winner Kirsten Dunst for ‘Best Actress in Movie Made for Television or Limited Series’ for her performance as young Dolly in Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors. Even at the young age of eight, “Aly”, as she goes by, is very aware of what an honor it is to portray the country music legend – who reportedly personally broke the news to the young actress that she has been cast in the role!
“It was kind of a scheme,” said Lind. “They said I was going in for a final audition and then I got in there and there were like, a bunch of people piling in, like a bunch of people and I was like, this is the final audition? And then Dolly came in, she told me I got the role . . . and I was speechless, I didn’t know what to say!”
When asked what her favorite part of playing this incredible woman was, Lind responded, basically everything.
“I really liked getting to play Dolly Parton. She’s such an amazing person herself and she is so, so welcoming and so loving.”
Not mention the fact that she’s one of the most prolific and influential song writers of our time. Or that she’s the most honored female country star in history.
Representation for women was a big theme of the evening, with the largely female driven Mad Max: Fury Road taking home nine of the eleven awards for which it was nominated, including Editing and Costume Design, both of which were captained by women. But TV produced a strong showing of women as well, with Lifetime’s UnREAL (co-created by Marti Noxon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) receiving nominations for ‘Best Drama Series’, ‘Best Actress in a Drama Series’ for Shiri Appleby, and ‘Best Supporting Actress’ in a Drama Series’ for Constance Zimmer, which she ultimately won.
Zimmer said being part of this production full of smart, powerful women is, in a word, “incredible”.
“There should be more shows like that. I mean, it should be a staple, not a standout. I think it’s incredible to be on a show that’s written by women, and that the characters are flawed and complicated and not really likable and it’s okay.”
Wow, it’s almost like when you have more than one woman in a story, be it a movie, TV show, or otherwise they don’t all have to be sweet, flawless paradigms of femininity. Imagine that.
And while I, like Andre, am bummed that Straight Outta Compton didn’t win for ‘Best Acting Ensemble’, at least it was nominated. That’s more love than the incredibly talented cast has received from any of the other major awards shows.
For more photos and thoughts from the red carpet at the 2016 Critics’ Choice Awards, check out @LegionofLeia on Twitter to review my live-tweet of the event.