Of the seven USC alumni nominated for Sunday's Academy awards, four took home Oscars in the categories of Best Supporting Actress, Best Film Editing, Best Documentary – Short Subject, and Best Original Score
Other USC alumni nominees include Ryan Coogler, Director of the Black Panther, nominated for Best Picture; Jonathan Chinn, co-producer of Black Sheep, nominated for Best Documentary – Short Subject; and Erik Aadahl, nominated for Best Sound Editing in A Quiet Place.
The 91st Academy Awards opened with USC alumna Regina King taking the win for Best Supporting Actress. This is King's first Oscar nomination and win.
"To be standing here representing one the greatest artists of our time, James Baldwin — it's a little surreal," King said during her victory speech.
King studied communications at USC Annenberg for two years, before leaving to pursue acting full-time. King won for her role in If Beale Street Could Talk as Sharon Rivers, the mother of Tish, the film's main character whose fiancé is arrested for a crime he didn't commit.
King said to reporters backstage, including Annenberg Media, that she is thankful for the other women in the Academy who have advocated for female inclusion in film and media.
"We are still trying to get more reflective, still trying to get there." King said."I've had so many women that have paved the way … and I feel like I walk in their light."
She hopes her win will open doors for other women to pursue their dreams in the entertainment industry.
"There are young women that will walk in the light that I'm continuing to shine and expand from those women before me."
USC Cinematics Arts alumnus John Ottman won in the category of Film Editing for his work in Bohemian Rhapsody. This is his first Oscar nomination and win as well.
The film highlights the rise and popularity of the band Queen, and the story of its lead vocalist Freddie Mercury. Ottman said his enthusiasm for Mercury's music and life aided in the making of his film.
"I think Freddie Mercury, in a way, kind of brought us all together from wherever he is and just like he did his audience," he said. "The film … was a labor of love."
Ottman dedicated his success to his colleagues and parents.
"This [Academy envelope] goes to my parents on their fireplace mantel because they encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do when I was a kid,whether it was writing music, which was a mystery to them, or making films in their garage on Normington Way in San Jose, California," Ottoman said.
Ottman spoke to reporters about his education at USC.
"Whether it's school, throughout your life and all the people, all your friends and family, and teachers and so forth that encourage you, and they believe in you, I guess that keeps you going." he said.
School of Cinematic Arts graduate Rayka Zehtabchi, won best documentary short for Period. End of Sentence. The film follows the story of a group of women in a village on the border of Delhi, India, who create a machine to provide affordable sanitary pads.
"It was absolutely remarkable to see how open and empowered these women were." Zehtabchi said. "They were pulling me and Sam into the pad machine room to show us how to make a pad. So it's insane to see how transformative it's been."
Co-director Melissa Berton attributed the film's success to the cooperation of young women and educators.
"I share this [award] with teachers and with students around the world. A period should end a sentence, not a girl's education," Berton said.
Berton added that the girls were happy to see the end product of their participation in the documentary.
"The women in the village were the first audience to actually see the finished film, one of the first audiences, and they really felt proud of how they came across." said Berton.
Zehtabchi said she wanted to make the film to raise awareness for the lack of feminine care products in developing countries and to advocate for female empowerment.
"Since the Oscar nomination, we've received over 2,500 emails from all over the world saying we'd love a pad machine in this community, that community," Zehtabchi said.
USC Thornton alumnus Ludwig Göransson won best original score for his work on the soundtrack for best picture nominee, Black Panther.
Göransson attributes part of his success to working with fellow USC alumnus and director of Black Panther, Ryan Coogler.
"Twelve years ago we were sitting in our dorm at USC writing the score for our first short film," Göransson said. "We're here twelve years later, celebrating one of the most important cinematic moments in history."
In preparing to compose the soundtrack, Göransson traveled to Senegal to incorporate instruments used there.
"The most grateful part for me was, after the movie came out, getting the calls from Senegal and hearing them you know, like talking to me about them, watching the movie, and being so proud of hearing the music and hearing their instruments being represented on the big screen in front of the whole world."
Göransson said branching out into scoring African music was a daunting task, but his trust in Coogler kept him dedicated to his job.
“Working with Ryan Coogler and having his support and his trust … inspired me to really go that extra mile and then really wanting to do justice for the movie,” Göransson said.