‘Judas and The Black Messiah’s Shaka King Reflects On “Bittersweet” Oscar Best Picture Nom

Judas and The Black Messiah helmer Shaka King picked up two Oscar nominations this morning for Best Original Screenplay as a co-writer of the Fred Hampton and Bill O’Neal feature, alongside Will Berson, Kenneth Lucas, and Keith Lucas, as well as a Best Picture nomination as a producer on the film. “It was a wonderful surprise. I wasn’t anticipated it,” said King, speaking to Deadline after the nominations were read.

The marquee Best Picture nomination for Judas and The Black Messiah marked the first time in the award’s history that the nominated producing team for any Best Picture nominee is an all-Black team led by King, MACRO CEO Charles D. King, and Ryan Coogler.

“Anytime you’re the first black anything and you talk about something in a positive light, it’s very bittersweet,” said King, likening the achievement to his upbringing as a “vegetarian” who “grew up in a black neighborhood.”

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He shared that “in order to get fresh produce, my parents would have to leave the neighborhood, Bed-Stuy, and go to Manhattan to get fresh produce. And then, years later, when the neighborhood got gentrified, they started to carry fresh produce in the neighborhood. And it was like, after all these years, they finally decided to. So it was like we’re glad that you had the fresh produce here, but at the same time, it was a reminder that they devalued us so many years. It’s similar.”

Along with King, stars Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield earned Best Supporting Actor noms for their performances as Hampton and O’Neal, respectively. All together, Judas and The Black Messiah nabbed a total of Oscar nominations.

“I think with the pandemic and the rebellions of last summer, people are just a bit more skeptical of state-run institutions. I think for that reason that political pores are a bit more open as Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr says,” King remarked on the film’s positive reception.

“They were more open to taking a look at this history and not casting any doubts at times because they have seen, I think, the same kind of sentiments that led to the FBI crushing voices of dissent. They’ve seen a lot of those attitudes play in 2020 and 21.”

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