'One Night in Miami's' Kemp Powers Hails Oscar Diversity Despite Regina King Snub

“There’s always further we have to go, but… it seems like a step in the right direction,” Best Adapted Screenplay nominee tells TheWrap

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Monday’s Oscar nominations announcement was a whirlwind for “One Night in Miami” writer Kemp Powers, who scored a Best Adapted Screenplay nod for the Amazon Studios drama. The only sore spot? Regina King, who made her directorial debut with the film adaptation of Powers’ play, was shut out of the Best Director category.

“I think she’s one of the best directors in the world, I really do. That’s how great a job she did,” Powers told TheWrap of King’s snub. “But of course I am biased.”

Powers — whose Pixar film “Soul” also nabbed a best animated feature nomination — was among the only nominees to be recognized for his work on “One Night in Miami.” The film also bagged nods for Best Supporting Actor for Leslie Odom Jr. and Best Original Song for Odom Jr.’s “Speak Now,” but it was slighted in the Best Picture race. Still, Powers insisted, “When anyone gets a notice, it’s a notice for the entire film.”

“It’s our baby. Regina as director, the cast and crew, the producers and the folks at Amazon really got behind it,” he said of the film, adding, “I really am honored. When you start off writing one of these things, you hope someone will like it, anyone. You want one person to like it other than you. It’s beyond my wildest dreams.”

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Moreover, Powers applauded the historically diverse slate of this year’s Oscar nominees. Academy Award nominations went to two female filmmakers for the first time (Chloé Zhao for “Nomadland” and Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman”), and there was a record number of nominees of color in the acting categories, with nine total.

“There’s always further we have to go, but at a cursory glance — I haven’t even had my coffee yet — it seems like a step in the right direction,” Powers said. “It also speaks to the wealth of stuff that came out last year — they can’t all [be nominated].”

That wealth of projects will only continue to grow as planned theatrical releases of summer blockbusters will finally move forward — and Powers himself is among those movie fans thrilled to get back into theaters.

“All of the popcorn films got pushed — I was as excited to see ‘Dune’ as anyone,” he joked.

Read the complete list of Oscar nominations here.

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