SAG Awards nominee profile: Ensemble champ Angela Bassett seeks first solo win for ‘Black Panther’s’ Queen Ramonda

In the entire history of the Screen Actors Guild Awards, only Ian McKellen (as Gandalf) has accomplished the feat of winning twice for playing a single character in multiple films. After nearly two decades, the supporting actor (2001’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”) and ensemble (2003’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”) victor might soon be joined in this distinction by current supporting actress nominee Angela Bassett. Her “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” bid is her first individual film one from the guild and comes four years after she was honored as a member of the original “Black Panther” cast.

Bassett is now a four-time SAG Award nominee, having been recognized for her performances in the TV movies “Ruby’s Bucket of Blood” (2001) and “Betty and Coretta” (2013). Her supporting actress competition includes Hong Chau (“The Whale”) and Jamie Lee Curtis (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”), who were previously nominated for “Downsizing” (2017) and “True Lies” (1994), respectively. Rounding out the group are Curtis’ co-star, Stephanie Hsu, who has a TV comedy ensemble win for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” under her belt, and SAG Awards newcomer Kerry Condon (“The Banshees of Inisherin”).

SEE Full list of SAG Awards nominations

In the first proper sequel to 2018’s “Black Panther,” Bassett reprises her role of Queen Ramonda, who becomes sovereign ruler of Wakanda following the death of her son, King T’Challa (previously played by the late Chadwick Boseman). Although she serves her subjects well by remaining steadfast against growing pressure for Wakandans to share their powerful resources with the world, she is nonetheless caught off guard when the subterranean Talokanil mark her people as enemies and threaten to attack them.

As the 13th Black woman ever nominated for this particular SAG Award, Bassett stands with Asian actresses Chau and Hsu as part of only the third POC majority in the category’s history. The first two instances involved 2006 winner Jennifer Hudson (“Dreamgirls”) and nominees Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi (“Babel”), and 2016 champ Viola Davis (“Fences”) and contenders Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”) and Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”).

Bassett would be the eighth Black actress to prevail here, after Hudson, Ruby Dee (2007’s “American Gangster”), Mo’Nique (2009’s “Precious”), Spencer (2011’s “The Help”), Lupita Nyong’o (2013’s “12 Years a Slave”), Davis and Ariana DeBose (2021’s “West Side Story”). At 64, she would also be the sixth oldest recipient of this prize behind Gloria Stuart (87, 1997’s “Titanic”), Dee (85), Yuh-Jung Youn (73, 2020’s “Minari”), Lauren Bacall (72, 1996’s “The Mirror Has Two Faces”) and Judi Dench (66, 2000’s “Chocolat”).

This article is a part of Gold Derby’s “SAG Awards nominee profile” series spotlighting the 2023 contenders in film and TV.

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