Posted by Larry Gleeson
By Kenya Vaughn
When Kimberly Steward was at home in St. Louis, Missouri making media rounds for the film “Manchester by the Sea” just ahead of its nationwide theatrical release this past October, she didn’t want to entertain the Oscar buzz surrounding the film.
The idea of it seemed too farfetched – too much of a fairytale ending for the first-time feature film producer.
“If anything happens with any kind of awards, I will definitely be giving Oprah a shout out,” Steward said.
“Manchester by the Sea” was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award making Steward the second African American woman producer to have a film in the running for the most coveted award of the film season. Oprah Winfrey is the other.
“What she has done as a filmmaker and a producer has opened doors for me and so many others,” Steward said of Winfrey. “If that actually happens, I will actually bow and curtsey to her because she paved the way.”
“This is exciting and surreal,” Steward told The Huffington Post’s Zahara Hill. “I’m just beyond belief.”
With a diverse mix of nominees both in front of and behind the scenes, Steward has the chance to strike Oscar gold with her debut as producer/financier thanks to “Manchester.”
“As an African American woman, it’s important to have that representation off screen too,” Steward said of her role in bringing the film to mass audiences.
Steward and her K. Period Media (which she operates with producing partner Lauren Beck) put forth the necessary financing for the Kenneth Lonegran feature to see the light of day.
“We had nobody except K Period,” Matt Damon said during a “Produced By” panel. A fellow producer along with Steward, the concept of the film was Damon’s idea – and he was originally set to star in the drama. Scheduling conflicts meant that Casey Affleck would assume the role of Lee Chandler, a reclusive New England janitor forced to confront his painful past and mend broken familial ties.
The film – and Affleck’s performance in particular – was praised by critics from its premiere at Sundance last winter.
While at Sundance, Amazon paid $10 million for the film’s distribution rights. Manchester” was believed to be a shoe-in for several honors for the next awards season.
First came the Golden Globes – where “Manchester” earned a total of five nominations. Casey Affleck took home “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama.” Steward was the first person Affleck reached out to embrace when his name was announced at last month’s ceremony.
Hats off to Kimberly Steward.
(Source: St. Louis American)