Many people have been critical of the Oscars this year for the lack of inclusion in its major categories and trying to make up for it with its presenters criticising the Oscars for the lack of inclusion. Like is it enough to acknowledge that you can do better without actually doing better? Whatever your opinion is on whether or not the Academy is being disingenuous about its efforts, the presenters, like Utkarsh Ambudkar, shouldn’t be the ones to answer that questions. They were there to take advantage of an opportunity.
Utkarsh performed a rap recap of the show around its midpoint. Not really a necessary part of the show to begin with. And he’s not all that well known. Which is what he acknowledged off the top of his performance, the point being that the audience should get to know talent like him, because he’s been working, steadily, and is expected to further expand his profile in the next few months, with roles in Mulan and Free Guy. Sort of like, OK Academy, if you’re using me, I’m using you. This was the biggest two minute spotlight of his life, in spite of the fact that he was an early collaborator of Lin-Manuel Miranda while they were workshopping Hamilton.
Did that work for you? It definitely worked for me. His freestyle was fine, but it was his stage presence that made the impression and that’s mostly how you sell a freestyle anyway. Utkarsh’s cockiness isn’t aggressive, nor is it is defensive. It’s more about knowing what’s really hard, because he’s been through it, and what he’s been through is a lot more challenging than the task that was before him last night. He’s also so beautiful and I loved that he changed from the carpet to the stage into a suit that incorporated elements from his culture. And now he’s a next day headline, featured in articles at PEOPLE.com, The Wrap, Vanity Fair, Refinery29, and more. Utkarsh showed his work, and it paid off.