James Baldwin honored by Regina King in Oscar win for ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’

Regina King dedicated her Oscar win Sunday night to gay literary icon James Baldwin.

King won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award — her first Oscar nomination — for her dramatic role in “If Beale Street Could Talk,” which was based on Baldwin’s 1974 novel of the same name. The film adaption was written and directed by Barry Jenkins, his first film since “Moonlight” won the Best Picture Oscar in 2017.


“To be standing here representing one of the greatest artists of our time, James Baldwin, is a little surreal,” King said, holding back tears, as she held her golden statute. “James Baldwin birthed this baby and Barry, you nurtured her, and surrounded her with so much love and support.”

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“If Beale Street Could Talk” is set in Harlem in the early 1970s. The film tells the love story of recently engaged African-American couple, who are childhood sweethearts. The young woman tries to prove her fiancé, who has been falsely accused of rape, is innocent while carrying their first child. King plays the mother of the pregnant woman.


Baldwin, a novelist and poet, is a towering figure in literary history. Baldwin, who identified as gay, also became one of the loudest, most lauded, and celebrated voices of the Civil Rights Movement.

Baldwin is best known for several works: “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” “Another Country,” and his 1963 classic “The Fire Next Time.”

For Baldwin, his queerness and his blackness were inseparable. He was intersectional before the word existed.

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Leading up to the Academy Awards, King won a Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award, among other accolades.

Onstage, King also thanked her “sisters in art” who were nominated in the category with her: Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz from “The Favourite,” Marina de Tavira from “Roma,” and Amy Adams from “Vice.”

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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