The biggest night for movies was also a big night for two people with connections to the Hawkeye State.

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All walks of Hollywood life came together for the Academy Awards on Sunday night. On March 12th, the 95th Oscars went off without a hitch...or a slap. While Will Smith was nowhere to be seen that evening, it still was a big night for film creatives.

While movie lovers are cheering for their favorite actor or actress to win, Iowans had two exciting moments to get excited about.

Iowa Native Center Of Emotional Music Tribute

One of the most highly anticipated moments of the evening was Rihanna's performance of her Academy Award nominated song. The track "Lift Me Up" written for the film "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" was one of the strongest contenders to win 'Best Original Song' but lost out to 'Naatu Naatu' from 'RRR'

The entire performance, just like the film, was a beautiful tribute to the late Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman.

The woman who introduced Rihanna's song was actress Danai Gurira, who plays Okoye in the Marvel movies. Her character is one of the most powerful warriors in Wakanda and goes through an amazing character arc throughout the films.

According to the official Marvel character page she is described as, "One of Wakanda's greatest warriors, Okoye proudly protects her country's king alongside the Dora Milaje."

She also just so happens to be from Iowa. Gurira is originally from Grinnell and is the youngest child of four. Her parents both worked in academia; with her mother being a college librarian and her father being a chemistry professor at Grinnell College. 

Gurira has appeared in the following Marvel movies so far:

  • 'Black Panther'
  • 'Avengers: Infinity War'
  • 'Avengers: Endgame'
  • 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever'

She quickly become a fan favorite in the MCU, thus she was the clear favorite to introduce the song AND take a moment to pay tribute to Boseman.

"Chadwick's powerful artistry, his magnetism, and his incomparable humanity left an indelible mark on our hearts," the actress said.

"His legacy will live on for future generations..."

You can watch her short but poignant introduction here.

University of Iowa Grad Takes Home Biggest Award of the Night

The big winner of the night was the absolutely bonkers movie "Everything Everywhere All at Once."  

It went home with seven of the eleven awards it was nominated for; including Best Supporting and Lead Actress, Best Director, and Best Picture. One of the countless creatives behind the project hails from the Hawkeye State.

University of Iowa grad Joe Russo produced the film with the independent film production company he runs with his brother, according to reports. Russo studied English and writing at Iowa. He also has a hand in many of the big Marvel movie projects.

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