Da’Vine Joy Randolph Wins Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Estimated read time 3 min read

The Big Picture

  • Da’Vine Joy Randolph shines in Alexander Payne’s
    The Holdovers
    , winning her first Academy Award for a heart-wrenching performance as Mary Lamb.
  • Randolph’s portrayal adds emotional depth and a unique perspective to the film, exploring themes of loss, loneliness, and personal growth.
  • The actress took on the role to represent an authentic woman of color on screen, showcasing raw, unapologetic emotions in a powerful way.

Da’Vine Joy Randolph has fulfilled expectations by taking home a thoroughly deserved first Academy Award for her heartbreaking role in Alexander Payne‘s The Holdovers. In the film, Randolph plays the lunch lady, Mary Lamb, grief-stricken after the tragic death of her son in Vietnam. The movie, set in a New England prep school during the Christmas period in the early 1970s, explores themes of loss, loneliness, connection, understanding, and personal growth across different backgrounds and generations.

Randolph’s Mary Lamb is pivotal to the narrative, taking on a maternal role — in a sense — to Dominic Sessa‘s Angus Tully, as well as a grounded companion for the curmudgeonly Paul Hunham (Paul Giamatti), providing emotional depth and a unique perspective that further enhances the film’s exploration of its themes.

Randolph’s performance has been universally acclaimed, and, including the Academy Award, this marks her 39th award given for her role in The Holdovers, including other big-hitting awards including the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the BAFTAs, the Golden Globes, the National Board of Review, the Independent Spirit Awards, and the Critics Choice Awards.

Why Did Da’Vine Joy Randolph Take on the Role of Mary Lamb?

Domnic Sessa, Paul Giamatti, and Da'Vine Joy Randolph as Angus, Paul, and Mary eating in front of a Christmas tree in The Holdovers Image via Focus Features

Last year, Randolph spoke with Collider’s Steve Weintraub ahead of the release of the film, where she was asked about her reasons for taking on the role. Amusingly, she confessed she wasn’t even aware of who Payne was at the time, or that co-star Giamatti was involved, but upon reading the screenplay she knew it was something she absolutely had to be a part of.

Well, to be completely transparent with you, when Alexander called me, it’s been two years, but I don’t believe I had the script first, and I actually didn’t know who Alexander Payne was when he reached out. But when I did get the script, I don’t think I even knew that Paul was connected. For me, the biggest thing was
it was a woman who got to be real and authentic and in her feelings unapologetically.
For that, for a woman and a woman of color, we do not see much of that in cinema and television, and to have an opportunity to depict that, I was like, “Absolutely. Sign me up for it.”

Randolph’s win also marked her first nomination at the Academy Awards. The Holdovers is available to stream now via Peacock.

The Holdovers Film Poster

The Holdovers

A cranky history teacher at a remote prep school is forced to remain on campus over the holidays with a troubled student who has no place to go.

Release Date November 10, 2023

Director Alexander Payne

Runtime 133 minutes

Writers David Hemingson