The late Chadwick Boseman, who is widely known for his titular role in Black Panther, was posthumously honored at the 2021 Gotham Awards. The awards show is presented by the Independent Filmmaker Project, and it honored Boseman following his role in his final movie, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. His widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, accepted the award on her husband’s behalf before delivering a moving speech.
“He is the most honest person I’d ever met,” Ledward said with tears in her eyes. “He actively searched for it, in himself, those around him, and the moment. The truth can be a very easy thing for the self to avoid. But if one does not live in truth, then it’s impossible to live life.”
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was released in December 2020 on Netflix and is already garnering Oscar buzz for its stars. Boseman portrays Levee Green, a trumpeter in Viola Davis’s character Ma Rainey’s blues band. The story takes place in 1927 Chicago and tells the story of Ma and her band as they gather at a recording studio. The drama is based on the play of the same name written by August Wilson (who also wrote 2016’s Oscar-winning movie Fences, starring Davis, as well). While Ledward accepted the award, she said that her husband “made a practice of telling the truth,” referring to the movie roles he accepted.
“So it became how he lived his life, day in and day out,” she explained. “Imperfect but determined. He was blessed to live many lives within his concentrated one. He developed his understanding of what it meant to be the one, the none, and the all. ‘A vessel to be poured into and out of,’ he’d said.”
She continued, “He harnessed the power of letting go and letting God’s love shine through. He realized that when one is able to recognize that when their strength does not come from themself, they rarely mess up. That’s what he was doing when he was acting. Modeling for us a path to true fulfillment.”
Chadwick Boseman passed away in August 2020 at the age of 43 from a four-year battle with colon cancer. She concluded her speech by saying, “Chad, thank you. I love you. I am so proud of you. Keep shining your light on us. Thank you.”