British actress, writer and director Emerald Fennell was the first winner of the Oscars 2021.
The multi-talented 35-year-old – who fans may also recognise for her role as Camilla Parker Bowles in The Crown – wrote multi-award nominated film Promising Young Woman.
The film stars Carey Mulligan as a young woman out to avenge her friend who was sexually abused at university – and failed by society and the legal system.
Landing the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, Emerald became the first female winner of the award since 2008, when Diablo Cody won the award for Juno.
Accepting the award, an emotional Emerald thanked her cast and family in a touching speech.
She gushed: “Oh my gosh. They said write a speech. And I didn’t. Because I just didn’t think this would ever happen. And I’m going to be in trouble with Steven Soderbergh. I’m so sorry!
“I don’t want him to be cross with me.”
Speaking of the award, not Steven, she continued: “Oh my god! He’s so heavy. And he’s so cold.
“So the only speech I ever wrote was when I was 10. And I’d love to see if there would be anything useful from it. But unfortunately I mostly thanked Zack Morris from Saved by the Bell who was my very supportive husband.
“Unfortunately he hasn’t been as much a part of my life as I’d hoped. So that speech has not been that useful.
All I can say is… I’m trying very hard not to cry which is very difficult as an English person as we don’t cry ever.”
Becoming emotional, she went on: “This film was made by the most incredible people in the world who made it in 23 days… and brought their complete genius and love and humour to it.
“I have so many people to thank. I feel mortified to be here by myself when it’s not just my job at all.”
She continued: “I want to thank Carey Mulligan for not only being the most talented person in the world, but the kindest and the funniest.
“I want to thank the producers for standing behind this film, always. And never giving up.
“And Lucky Chap, Focus, Film Nation, the cast and the crew, the greatest in the world. The kindest in the world. They just made me look good and I am so grateful.
“Finally my family. Mum, dad, Coco, my husband Chris.”
Tearing up, she went on: “Come on. Come on! Our son who did not arrive until a couple of weeks after shooting. Thank god because I was crossing my legs all the way through.
“So thank you all so much. Steven, I hope that was alright!”
More success for British stars soon followed as Daniel Kaluuya won the Best Supporting Actor award for his role as Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah.
The 32-year-old actor gave a heartfelt speech as he accepted his award – after playing a real person on screen.
“It’s so hard to make a film about a man like this [American activist Fred Hampton].
“And they made it possible. They made it happen. I share this honour with the gift that is LaKeith Stanfield [who played Bill O’Neal], the light that is Dominique Fishback [who played Deborah Johnson], the incredible cast and incredible crew.
The Lucas Brothers [Kenneth and Keith] for starting their journey. Will Berson…it’s so incredible to look around you and be inspired by who they are.”
He continued: “To Fred Hampton, what a man. What a man. How blessed we are to have lived in a lifetime where he existed. Thank you for your life. He was on this earth for 21 years and he found a way to feed kids breakfast, educate kids, give free medical care. Against all the odds.
“He showed me. He taught me. Him. Huey P Newton. Bobby Seale. The Black Panther Party. They showed me how to love myself. And with that love they overflowed it to the black community and to other communities. And they showed us that the power of union, the power of unity, when they play divide and conquer, we say unite and ascend.”
After declaring he would be celebrating hard “until Tuesday”, Daniel also took a humorous turn in his speech as he discussed his own conception.
He said: “We have to celebrate life. We are breathing, we are walking. It is incredible.
“My mum, my dad, they had sex! It’s amazing! Do you know what I’m saying? I’m here! I’m so happy to be alive. So I’m going to celebrate that tonight.”
British director Martin Desmond Roe added to the UK wins on Sunday night as he scooped the Best Live Action Short Film award alongside American co-director Travon Free.
The duo made a short science fiction drama called Two Distant Strangers which sees a black man repeatedly killed by an American police officer.
In the acceptance speech Travon warned that America police kill on average three people per day.