How LeBron James threw a big assist to Golden Globes winner Octavia Spencer
Former Division I basketball player Mahershala Ali wins big for controversial ‘Green Book’
On Sunday night, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association honored its version of the industry’s best 2018 work. The Golden Globes, in some ways, are a hotly contested playoff game leading up to the Academy Awards ceremony that happens near the end of February.
In case you went to sleep early, spoiler alert: No wins for BlacKkKlansman or for Black Panther. Regina King, in a hugely inspiring and deserving moment, won best supporting actress for her role in If Beale Street Could Talk.
After celebrities walked the first red carpet of the season — it’s long and literally the equivalent of three football fields — they made their way inside the International Ballroom at one of Southern California’s most noted hotels, the Beverly Hilton.
Among the night’s most surprising wins was period piece Green Book — a film mired in controversy, as the family of noted musician Don Shirley has condemned the movie and protested the accuracy of the portrayal of the late jazz pianist and composer. Called a “poorly titled white savior film,” on Sunday night it won Globes for best picture, musical or comedy; best screenplay; and best supporting actor for Oscar winner Mahershala Ali, who apologized to Shirley’s family late last year.
Backstage, Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, who also is one of Green Book’s executive producers, told The Undefeated a bit about her next project, in which she’ll be portraying Madam C.J. Walker in a limited series for Netflix. Spencer will both star in and executive produce the eight-episode story of a woman who went from washing clothes to becoming the first African-American female millionaire — and she’s doing it with LeBron James, who is producing along with her.
Spencer said that James’ leadership in Hollywood is as powerful as his work on the basketball court. He and his longtime business partner Maverick Carter went to bat for her as she was working out the particulars of her deal for the series.
“When we were in negotiations, they had to … step up for me,” said Spencer. “He and Maverick … that type of leadership has been important, and I’m thrilled about it. When I asked for certain things, they had to go and say, ‘She deserves these things!’ It’s sad that we have to do that, but they did, and that’s what I’m working with: people who have no problem standing up.”
Spencer says they’re still in preproduction for the Netflix series. “I [am interested in] underrepresented communities, more female voices. I’m a person who believes that we should … not just have films that have messages but, depending on where you live in this country, you might need a little bit of escapism — just pure fun.”
And as for Ali, who attended Saint Mary’s College of California, a Division I school in Moraga, on a basketball scholarship, he attributes his massive Hollywood success to teamwork.
“My first sport, I was a BMX racer — which is not a team sport! But after that I was basically on team sports, and I’ve never really understood accomplishing anything without the help of a lot of people,” Ali said backstage after he collected his award for best supporting actor. “In this case, from [co-star] Viggo Mortensen … to [director] Pete Farrelly … it’s a team sport. You can’t do it without the other person. It’s your job.
“For me in my time playing, it wasn’t just about how hard you worked on the court, or how much you scored, but it also was about your attitude and the energy that you brought to the team. I always try to be very conscious of my energy and what I bring into the room.”
A full list of Golden Globe winners is here.