The Gotham Awards celebrate the best projects in independent film, and during the January 11 event, the late Chadwick Boseman was awarded one of the show's most important honors. Boseman's wife Taylor Simone Ledward accepted the award on his behalf, speaking publicly for the first time about the actor's unique philosophy towards life.
For his performance in Netflix original Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (also starring Viola Davis, Taylour Paige, and Coleman Domingo), Boseman won the Actor Tribute Award. The late actor starred in the film as the fictional character Levee Green, a passionate and ambitious trumpeter in Ma Rainey's blues band with big dreams. His role, which many believe may see Boseman receive a posthumous Oscar nomination, would be his final on screen appearance.
On August 28, 2020, Boseman's family shared a statement revealing that the Black Panther star had passed away. Unbeknownst to his co-stars and fans, the actor had been quietly battling colon cancer for over four years; between rigorous shoots of Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, Da 5 Bloods, and 21 Bridges, Boseman had been undergoing several difficult surgeries and chemotherapy treatments. His illness didn't keep him from shining on screen, as seen in the obvious commercial success of his very last films.
At the Gothams, Boseman's widow accepted the Actor Tribute Award in his honor and shared a few words about her husband with those attending the virtual show.
“He was the most honest person I ever met, because he didn’t just stop at speaking the truth: he actively searched for it in himself and those around him and in the moment," Ledward said. "And so it became how he lived his life, day in and out. Imperfect and determined. In doing so, he was able to give himself over fully in every moment, to be totally present in his own life and in the lives of people he became."
"He was blessed to live many lives within his concentrated one," she continued. "He developed his understanding of what it meant to be the none, the one, and the all. ‘A vessel to be poured into and out of,’ he said. He harnessed the power of letting go and letting God’s love shine through… [He] was not merely telling a story or reading lines on a page, but modeling a path to true fulfillment.”
“Chad, thank you," Ledward closed. "I love you I am so proud of you. Keep shining your light on us.”