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Oprah Receives Montecito Award
updated: Feb 06, 2014, 12:50 AM

By the Dedicated Staff of edhat.com

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival honored Oprah Winfrey on Wednesday evening with the Montecito Award on behalf of her performance in Lee Daniels' The Butler and as a celebration of her overall career.

The Arlington Theatre was completely sold out as locals and film festival attendees filled every seat. The evening was moderated by LA Times columnist John Horn who as he introduced Winfrey, she came dancing onto the stage while a Bruno Mars song played throughout the theatre. "My people! I just came down East Valley Road and onto State Street," Winfrey said as the crowd stood and cheered.

The Montecito Award was created in recognition of a performer who has given a series of classic and standout performances throughout his/her career and whose style has been a contribution to film. Previously, the award has been given to such luminaries as Daniel Day-Lewis, Geoffrey Rush, Julianne Moore, Kate Winslet, Javier Bardem, Naomi Watts and Annette Bening.

Photo by John Palminteri (KEYT)

Winfrey was quick to poke fun of herself stating that her "body of work" in film was very minimal. "We know people in Santa Barbara like to be home by 9:30. We can get you home in time tonight," she joked. Winfrey even shared a story of how her best friend Gayle howled with laughter over receiving the award stating, "thats a bit of a stretch!" The phrase "body of work" became a laughing point throughout the whole interview as Winfrey stated she has only done 3 films in 13 years.

Oprah Winfrey's most recent work includes her portrayal of supportive wife Gloria Gaines in Lee Daniels' The Butler. This historical drama stars Forest Whitaker as an African American butler working at the White House through multiple administrations, set against the arc of the civil rights movement. "All I saw in that movie was Forest," she said.

Winfrey discussed her obsession with The Color Purple where she made her acting debut in 1985 portraying the troubled wife, Sofia, a performance that garnered her an Academy Award® nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Winfrey stated that this role changed her life.

In 1998, she starred in and produced Jonathan Demme's Beloved which took 10 years to make when everyone said it couldn't be done. "When you believe, it doesn't matter what other people think," said Winfrey. She went on to explain that if she had to do Beloved over again, she would do it differently, but overall she wanted to show that "in spite of slavery, we were still people who could love."

In 2009 Winfrey served as Executive producer on Lee Daniels' film Precious, which went on to receive six Academy Award® nominations and winning two. Winfrey also lent her voice in several movies such as Charlotte's Web, Bee Movie and The Princess and The Frog. When asked about the future of her body of work, Winfrey said that she will do other films. If you're curious who she's hoping wins Best Picture this year, that would be 12 Years A Slave.

Photo by John Palminteri (KEYT)

Around this time when the interview was wrapping up and Winfrey was set to receive her award, a woman from the back of the theatre stood up holding what looked like books. The heckler yelled over the presentation of Winfrey's award. Even though we were a short distance away, it was hard to decipher exactly what she was saying. Security was quick to quiet the woman but a few moments later she started yelling again and was quickly escorted out, yelling all the while about censorship or something that sounded similar to that. The event carried on and Winfrey was presented with the award and a standing ovation.

Keystone Pipeline protestors outside the Arlington Theatre

(Source: SBIFF.org)


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