At the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis were named Outstanding Performers of the Year for their work in King Richard.

At the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis were named Outstanding Performers of the Year for their work in King Richard.

  • Smith and Ellis, both 53, are up for Oscars for their performances in film 
  • They portrayed the roles of Richard and Oracene ‘Brandy’ Williams in the movie 
  • Past honorees include Viola Davis, Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lawrence 

Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis, stars of King Richard’s biographical drama, were honoured on Sunday at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, sharing the Outstanding Performer Of The Year award.

Smith, 53, was dressed in a black suit with purple trim and a maroon turtleneck with black shoes for the performance at The Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, California.

Ellis, 53, looked stunning in a patterned green gown with braided hair, dangling earrings, and green sandal heels.

Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis were named Outstanding Performers
The latest: Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis, both 53, were honoured Sunday at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival at The Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, California, sharing the Outstanding Performer Of The Year award for their roles in King Richard.

In the film, Smith and Ellis played Richard and Oracene ‘Brandy’ Williams, the parents of tennis phenoms Venus and Serena Williams, who helped their daughters become world-class athletes.

‘We’re so excited to be able to salute the incomparable Will Smith and the revelatory Aunjanue Ellis with this award,’ said the festival’s executive director Roger Durling in a statement in November.

‘In King Richard, the “doubles match” of their intricate relationship onscreen as Richard and Oracene are electrifying and a joy to behold.’

Previous recipients of the award include Sacha Baron Cohen, Viola Davis, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lawrence, Rami Malek, and the late Heath Ledger.

Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis were named Outstanding Performers
The co-stars of the biographical drama posed with one another during entrances 
Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis were named Outstanding Performers
Ellis donned a patterned green gown with her hair in braids, dangling earrings and green sandal heels 
Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis were named Outstanding Performers
Smith donned a black suit with purple trimming and a maroon turtleneck with black shoes in the outing

The film has been nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for Smith and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for Ellis.

The film is also nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Original Screenplay, Best Achievement in Film Editing, and Best Achievement in Motion Picture Music.

Smith discussed his enthusiasm for the project in a November interview with Saniyya Sidney, 15, and Demi Singleton, 15, who played Venus and Serena Williams, respectively, in the film.

Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis were named Outstanding Performers
The festival’s executive director Roger Durling said in a statement in November: ‘We’re so excited to be able to salute the incomparable Will Smith and the revelatory Aunjanue Ellis with this award’
Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis were named Outstanding Performers
The Oscar-nominated stars posed with King Richard director Reinaldo Marcus
Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis were named Outstanding Performers
The performance in the film garnered Smith his third Academy Award nomination for acting
Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis were named Outstanding Performers
Smith and Ellis in the film portrayed the roles of Richard and Oracene ‘Brandy’ Williams, the parents of tennis phenoms Venus and Serena Williams

‘I like stories where you think you know what’s going on,’ he said. ‘You pull back the veil when no one knew there was one.’ Richard Williams was a man who was misunderstood. I liked humanising a character who had been somewhat demonised in the sport.

‘He’s a true genius.’ He had two Michael Jordans in mind. Consider how unusual that is.’

Kristen Stewart, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Javier Bardem are the other celebrities set to be honoured at this year’s festival.

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival will be held until March 12.

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