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Da'Vine Joy Randolph cries while accepting the award.Chris Pizzello / AP

Da'Vine Joy Randolph won her 1st Oscar. She told TODAY what it means to her: EXCLUSIVE

Randolph tearfully accepted her first Academy Award with a speech that made her "Holdovers" co-star Paul Giamatti cry, too.

/ Source: TODAY

Da’Vine Joy Randolph won the Academy Award for best supporting actress at the 2024 Oscars, delivering a tearful and riveting speech about her career journey leading up to her winning role in "The Holdovers".

“I didn’t think I was supposed to be doing this as a career," she began with the first speech of the night. "I started off as a singer. my mother said to me, 'Go across that street to that theater dept. there’s something for you there. I thank her for doing that.' I thank all those people who stepped in my path. I am so grateful to all of you people out here. For so long I have always wanted to be different. Now I realize I just need to be myself."

She also thanked her acting teacher, Ron Van Lieu. "When I was the only Black girl in that class, you saw me. When I told you I didn't see myself, you said that’s fine. We’re going to forge your own path. You’re going to forge a trail for yourself," she said.

She thanked the women who helped her lay that trail, and gave a special shoutout to her publicist. Watching her speech, her "Holdovers" star Paul Giamatti cried.

Prior to taking home the Oscar for her breakout performance in the “Holdovers,” Randolph discussed the significance of being nominated and revealed what it would mean to take home the coveted award.

In an exclusive interview with TODAY.com, Randolph, who won over fellow best actress nominees Emily Blunt, America Ferrera, Lily Gladstone, Penelope Cruz and Danielle Brooks, said it was “surreal” to be recognized for her work, regardless of the outcome.

“To be able to be counted in this number and to be part of history, no matter which way it goes,” she told TODAY.com. “We just got to finish doing our Oscar nominee luncheon and having all of the candidates or nominees rather, in the same room together was surreal and a really special experience.” 

The lauded actress stars as Mary Lamb, a cafeteria worker grappling with her son’s death in the Vietnam War, in the movie. Fellow nominee Giamatti plays a disgruntled prep school teacher who is forced to chaperone students left behind during winter break.

For her heart-wrenching portrayal of a grieving mom still coping with the loss of her child, Randolph racked up a slew of honors including, a Golden Globe, a SAG Award and a BAFTA Film Award for best supporting actress.

But what would it mean for the first-time Oscar nominee if she “were to win” the Academy Award?

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful,” she answers, before thoughtfully adding, “But, at the end of the day, I’m really big picture and long journey.”

Da'Vine Joy Randolph
Da'Vine Joy Randolph poses in the winners room at the 2024 EE BAFTA Film Awards on February 18, 2024 in London, England.Mike Marsland / WireImage

Randolph says her journey towards the Oscars was something she worked hard to manifest. But winning the Oscar, that was something that just came on its own.

“To be honest with you. I’ve never manifested this ironically,” she told TODAY.com of taking home the Oscar. "I’ve never — this particular goal wasn’t necessarily the thing that I was gunning for.”

Instead, the actor said she was focused on the “types of roles and stories” she’s been wanting to tell and the women she’s wanted to “portray.”

“I’m just so moved and excited that this has been … received so well,” she said of her “Holdovers” performance.

Da'Vine Joy Randolph
Da'Vine Joy Randolph accepts the award for Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role in "The Holdovers" at the 81st Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 7, 2024 in Beverly Hills, Calif.John Salangsang / Getty Images

Now, as she looks ahead to what’s next, which include starring in forthcoming  films like “Shadow Force” and “Bride Heart,” Randolph reminds herself “it’s a marathon to me, not a race.”

“And it feels like I’ve just gotten started,” she continues. “I have just gotten started. And that, if nothing else, I hope …it  would have afforded me opportunities to create more great work.”