The virtual ceremony took place in New York City on Monday, Jan. 11 and honored Chadwick with the Actor Tribute, while his Ma Rainey's Black Bottom co-star Viola Davis received the Actress Tribute. He was also nominated for Best Actor for his role in Rainey, but that prize went to Sound of Metal's Riz Ahmed, who lauded Chadwick's performance in his acceptance speech.
In accepting the Actor Tribute on his behalf at the 30th Annual IFP Gotham Awards, which is run by the Independent Filmmaker Project, Taylor Simone Ledward praised her late husband for seeking honesty in every facet of his life. Chadwick passed away at the age of 43 in August following a battle with colon cancer.
"As an artist, an actor, and a person, Chad made a practice of telling the truth," she said. "He is the most honest person I've ever met. Because he didn't just stop at speaking the truth, he actively searched for it—in himself, in those around him and in the moment. The truth can be a very easy thing for the self to avoid, but if one does not live in truth, then it's impossible to live in line with a divine purpose for your life. And so, it became how he lived his life, day in, day out. Imperfect, but determined."
She explained that this philosophy allowed the Black Panther star to "give himself over fully to every moment, to be totally present in his own life and the lives of the people he became."
Taylor pointed out that Chadwick's power as an actor came in part from his sense that he was a "vessel to be poured into," which allowed others to find a voice through him. He was known for his stirring performances as real-life heroes in such films as the Jackie Robinson biopic 42, the James Brown story Get on Up and the Thurgood Marshall docudrama Marshall.
"He developed his understanding of what it meant to be the one, the none and the all," she continued. "He realized when one is able to recognize that their strength does not come from themself, they rarely mess up. That's what he was doing when he was acting. Not merely telling a story or reading lines off a page, but modeling for us a path of true fulfillment. May we not let his conviction be in vain. May our spirits be fertile soil for gods wisdom to fall upon."
She concluded by thanking god for "giving Chad these gifts, and instilling the strength to bear its weight." She then added, "Chad, thank you. I love you. I am so proud of you. Keep shining your light on us."