To prepare you for the upcoming Golden Globes, we’re providing a roundup of actors who are nominated for the first time in their careers. It’s a milestone accolade, and time will tell if they will also receive the distinction of a win. In the meantime, keep reading for our picks of this year’s first-time nominees, along with some of the credits that led up to their nominated performances.
Day is nominated for her work in The United States vs. Billie Holiday in two categories: Best Actress – Motion Picture and Best Song – Motion Picture for “Tigress & Tweed.” The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter made her acting feature film debut with the title role in Lee Daniels’ drama about the legendary jazz singer. The director shared with The Hollywood Reporter how he knew Day was the person for the job. “I sent her to an acting coach because she had not acted before,” Daniels recalled. “And the acting coach, on the fly, turned her iPhone on and showed me her prepping and getting into character. Just from that 30 seconds of video footage, I saw Billie Holiday without question.” Day revealed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon that she’d at first resisted playing the role of Holiday because she didn’t see herself as an actor. “What incentivized me was actually this idea that it would be vindicating her legacy and that the world would know her as the great godmother of civil rights,” Day added.
Taylor-Joy is also a double, first-time nominee. Her turn as the title character in Autumn de Wilde’s Emma earned her a nod for Best Actress – Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy, and her portrayal of fictional chess prodigy Beth Harmon in the hit series The Queen’s Gambit has her also up for Best Actress – Television Motion Picture. The young actor possesses an impressive list of previous credits that include Robert Eggers The Witch, Corey Finley’s Thoroughbreds and M. Night Shyamalan’s Split. When it came to tackling the role of Emma Woodhouse in the most recent on-screen adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic work, Taylor-Joy shared in an interview that she struggled with the times when her character was in a bullying position since she had in her own life been on the receiving end of such behavior. “With Emma in particular, I believed in her so much and I knew she was a good person, and that made it tricky whenever she was being a brat,” Taylor-Joy added. As for playing the 1960s chess prodigy in The Queen’s Gambit, the actor told The Hollywood Reporter that she shared some qualities with the character of Beth. “One of the main things that I connected with her on was her inherent loneliness,” Taylor-Joy noted. “I always had that, especially growing up.”
Leslie Odom Jr.
Like Day, Odom is up for both an acting and song nomination for the same film. The actor portrays singer Sam Cooke in Regina King’s feature directorial debut One Night in Miami, an imagining of what happened when Malcolm X, Cassius Clay, Jim Brown and Cooke gathered together one historic night in 1964. Odom garnered a nod for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture for his portrayal of Cooke, as well as one for Best Song – Motion Picture for “Speak Now.” Other recent credits for the actor include Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express, Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet and the Freeform series Love in the Time of Corona. But, he may be best known for originating the role of Aaron Burr in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway sensation Hamilton, a role that won him the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. Odom compared that experience in a recent interview to being a part of King’s film. “The first time I really felt I was a part of a championship team was as a part of the company of Hamilton,” Odom told Deadline. “I had never felt that on a film set. I didn’t know that was possible until One Night in Miami.”
The late actor received a posthumous nomination for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama for his work as Levee in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The on-screen adaptation of August Wilson’s play follows the titular trailblazing musician, played by Viola Davis, who clashes with her horn player Levee during a recording session in 1920s Chicago. Director George C. Wolfe spoke out about the experience of working with Boseman in his last performance. “Every day, we all got to witness the ferocity of his talent and the gentleness of his heart,” Wolfe recalled. “[He was] a truly blessed, loving, gifted and giving human being.” Leading up to this final role, Boseman had found success with his breakthrough performance as Jackie Robinson in Brian Helgeland’s 42. He went on to play a number of real-life icons, such as James Brown in Get on Up and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall. The actor is perhaps best-known, however, for his groundbreaking performance as the titular superhero in Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther.
Day, Taylor-Joy, Odom and Boseman are our picks from an impressive list of first-time nominees for this year’s Golden Globes. Names like Amanda Seyfried, Jason Sudeikis and Julia Garner also fall into the category, and you can find a full list of them here. Be sure to make any last-minute predictions on who you think will take home a win from their respective category before February 28 when this year’s awards show airs.