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LOS ANGELES – Stars gathered Sunday at the Fairmont Century Plaza hotel dressed to the nines for the second big show of awards season: the Critics Choice Awards.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” emerged as the night’s favorite, clinching five of its 14 nominated categories. “Abbott Elementary” star Sheryl Lee Ralph picked up a best supporting actress win and gave yet another powerful speech – as did Angela Bassett and Niecy Nash, when they both won supporting actress trophies for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” respectively.
A lot happened during the telecast, but even more action occurred in the ballroom that didn’t make it on TV. From stars hyping each other up with selfies to emotional backstage moments, here’s what went down.
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In typical Critics Choice fashion, the second the telecast hit a commercial break, stars leaped to their feet, practically skipping across the ballroom to schmooze and jive with other celebs.
During one break, Angela Bassett chatted up Janelle Monáe. Keegan-Michael Key and his wife Elle Key made their way to the “Abbott Elementary” table to have a conversation with Quinta Brunson and Lisa Ann Walter. And Stephanie Hsu from “Everything Everywhere All At Once” shared a hearty laugh with Jenny Slate of “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.”
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After winning their respective trophies for best actress and best supporting actor in a limited series or movie made for television, Amanda Seyfried and Paul Walter Hauser stood to the side of the ballroom and spoke in hushed tones and animated expressions. At the end of their conversation, the two snapped a selfie.
For some stars, the show served as a romantic date night. Kaley Cuoco, sporting a growing baby bump, spent most of the night with her partner Tom Pelphrey. During one break, one guest asked Pelphrey to snap a photo of herself with Cuoco, which the actor happily obliged. Nash also worked the red carpet beside her wife Jessica Betts. The two tied the knot in 2020.
Ke Huy Quan struggles to hold back tears backstage
The adrenaline was palpable during the show, as ecstatic stars claimed their trophies and gave heartfelt speeches for the world to see.
That intensity carried over backstage in the media room, where winners were immediately ushered to take questions and reflect on what their victories meant.
After winning best supporting actor, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” star Ke Huy Quan became emotional talking to reporters, saying the recognition surpassed his wildest dreams.
“I just wanted a job,” he said, his voice faltering and heart “still pounding.”
“I’m so lucky,” he added, tears welling in his eyes. “I remember very well what it was like being an Asian actor in the late ’80s and early ’90s. I just want doors to be open for all those actors like me who just want nothing but a steady job, and I just want all their dreams to come true.”
Quan wasn’t alone in feeling overwhelming gratitude. Ralph, winner for best supporting actress in a comedy series, got emotional as she talked about her late parents. “If they’re able to look at me from heaven, ‘Thank you, Mommy and Daddy, because this one’s for you,’ ” she said, raising her trophy to the sky.
In? Vibes. Out? New Year’s resolutions
New year, same celebs? On the red carpet, stars including Kerry Washington and Ayo Edebiri told USA TODAY they aren’t really into resolutions, at least not for 2023.
“I’m big on intentions for the year,” Washington says. Many share the same sentiment, forgoing the age-old tradition of setting big personal goals at the top of the year.
Kate Hudson says she “decided not to do resolutions … I didn’t do any of that this year, I’m just gonna come in hot.”
“All American” star Bre-Z tells us her resolution was to “eat better,” but it’s not going too well. Why? “I just don’t feel like it,” Bre-Z says with a laugh. Co-star Samantha Logan shared she was trying to eat better in the new year, too, along with having a better sleep schedule, but at the end of the day, the duo agreed it’s all about balance.
“The plan is to be happy. Whatever makes you happy,” Bre-Z says. “Life is about balance.”
Logan adds: “My body is going to fluctuate, and my skin is going to do whatever it wants to do, and that makes me human, and I don’t really care anymore.”
Edibiri says she also didn’t make any resolutions, but what’s “in” for her this year is being “nice to myself.” What’s out for the star of “The Bear”? Screen time, specifically TikTok.
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What do A-list celebrities get served for dinner at the Critics Choice Awards? Definitely not a five-course meal.
Every table was stocked with plenty of Fiji water, a couple of bottles of wine and a big bottle of champagne. The food options weren’t as abundant as the beverage selection, though: In addition to a cracker basket at each table, celebrities feasted on an array of dips including hummus and baba ganoush.
In case hummus wasn’t filling enough, there was plenty of Cold Stone ice cream to go around. Aside from a mini ice cream stand right outside the ballroom, Cold Stone cups were also passed around inside during commercial breaks.
It wasn’t until after the show when stars finally got to indulge in a little more sustenance. As soon as the telecast ended, stars exited the ballroom to find flatbreads, sushi rolls and dessert tables flooding the reception area.