How Chadwick Boseman’s widow Taylor Simone Ledward is prepping for the Oscars
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When Simone Ledward accepted the Outstanding Actor honor for her late husband, Chadwick Boseman, at the NAACP Image Awards in March, the crew was stunned into silence.
“Sometimes in the control room, you talk during the speech and sometimes you don’t. This time we didn’t. We leaned into the screen. It was very emotional,” Tony McCuin, the show’s live television director, told The Post.
“Normally, you’re looking at 30 to 45 seconds … before you cut the person off. We made the decision to let her go. She went for two minutes. She spoke to every black man, telling him to get his [colon] checked. It was about keeping black women from going through what she went through,” he said.
Boseman died of colon cancer, at age 43, in August of 2020. “If you are 45 years of age or older, please get screened,” Ledward, 30, said in the speech, her voice cracking.
Even when she was finished, the director couldn’t bear to look away.
“Usually as soon as the speech ends, we [move on],” McCuin added. “I needed to … stay with Simone for an extra few seconds. I wanted to see her face one last time.
“She deserved that moment. Chadwick deserved that moment.”
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When the Oscars are presented on Sun., April 25, Ledward will wrap up her role standing in for her husband — favored to win Best Actor for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” — this awards season. It’s been magical, and heartbreaking, as Boseman has received multiple trophies for his roles in two movies: “Ma Rainey’s” (Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, Screen Actor’s Guild and others) and a supporting part in “Da 5 Bloods” (NAACP Image, New York Film Critic’s Circle and more).
Ledward’s moving acceptance speeches have been a highlight.
When Boseman won a Golden Globe in February, she was tearful as she spoke via Zoom. “He would say something beautiful,” she said, as presenter Renée Zellweger cried onstage. “Something inspiring. Something that would amplify that little voice inside all of us that tells you you can. That tells you to keep going.”
McCuin believes that Ledward isn’t using a speechwriter.
“It all came from her heart,” he said of the NAACP speech. “I didn’t think she had anything written.”
Boseman and Ledward were first spotted together in 2015. By that point, the South Carolina-born actor was a star, having landed his breakthrough as Jackie Robinson in 2013’s “42” and wowed audiences as James Brown in “Get On Up.”
Ledward had graduated from Cal Polytechnic University in Pomona, Calif., in 2014, where she majored in music industry studies and was lead singer of the school jazz band.
The couple were very private, although occasionally seen on dates to NBA games and red-carpet events.
The last time they were at a big awards show together, it was the 2019 Oscars for “Black Panther,” the film that defines Boseman’s legacy. With his best girl resting her head on his shoulder, the actor looked on top of the world as the film scooped up three Academy Awards.
Secretly, however, he had been battling colon cancer since 2016, and many of his coworkers had no idea.
Ledward was a constant presence by Boseman’s side on the set of “Ma Rainey,” where only a very small trusted group knew that he was sick.
Co-star Glynn Turman, who knew nothing of the illness, told The Post: “I absolutely felt their love.”
He recalled how Boseman teased Ledward, particularly about her clumsiness, like when she tripped while being introduced to Turman. “They would joke and kid around … She was in on it and she took it in great stride and knew it was playful, as it was meant to be.”
“Ma Rainey” producer Denzel Washington told CBS “This Morning” how he urged Boseman “to put a ring” on Ledward’s finger “’cause she kept her eye on him and she watched him.”
Turman agreed: “We said he had to marry her … We could all see that they cared deeply for one another. It was wonderful to watch their love affair. Chadwick had a team of people he worked with who took good care of him … we had no idea what they were doing and why. They were all led by Simone.”
The couple reportedly got engaged in October 2019, and Ledward showed off her ring at a Lakers-Clippers basketball game.
The marriage was only made public with the news of Boseman’s passing, in a statement that said he died at home with his wife and family by his side.