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Actresses Margot Robbie, Allison Janney Named Outstanding Performers of the Year by SBIFF

Pair were recognized by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for their performances in the film 'I, Tonya'

Margot Robbie posed for photographers Thursday night on the Red Carpet at the Arlington Theatre. She shared the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival with her co-star, Allison Janney, for their roles in the film ‘I, Tonya.’ Click to view larger
Margot Robbie posed for photographers Thursday night on the Red Carpet at the Arlington Theatre. She shared the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival with her co-star, Allison Janney, for their roles in the film ‘I, Tonya.’ (Ryan Cullom / Noozhawk photo)
Allison Janney shared the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival with her co-star, Margot Robbie, for their roles in the film ‘I, Tonya.’ Click to view larger
Allison Janney shared the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival with her co-star, Margot Robbie, for their roles in the film ‘I, Tonya.’ (Ryan Cullom / Noozhawk photo)

Critics’ Choice Award winners Allison Janney and Margot Robbie were honored with the 2018 Outstanding Performers of the Year Award by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Thursday night’s tribute before a full house at the Arlington Theatre. 

SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling opened the show and credited the event sponsor, Belvedere Vodka, and presenting sponsor, UGG.

“Allison and Margot are superstars. They bring biting humor and an emotional resonance to their real-life characters in “I, Tonya”, stated Durling. “We are proud to celebrate them and their incredible contributions to cinema.”

He then introduced moderator Scott Feinberg, Awards Columnist at the Hollywood Reporter and 10-year veteran of SBIFF. 

Feinberg lauded Janney and Robbie for their remarkable performances in “I, Tonya”.

Both actresses have received nominations at the BAFTAs and SAG Awards for their respective roles, and Janney was awarded with the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.

Robbie was nominated as Best Actress and Janney Best Supporting Actress at the 90th Academy Awards for their roles in “I, Tonya”.

Janney and Robbie join a recognized group of previous Outstanding Performer Award recipients, including Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, Brie Larson and Saoirse Ronan, Steve Carell, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Viola Davis, Colin Firth, Penelope Cruz, Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren, Heath Ledger, Kate Winslet, and Charlize Theron.

‘I, Tonya’ director Craig Gillespie on the Red Carpet Thursday night at the Arlington Theatre. Click to view larger
‘I, Tonya’ director Craig Gillespie on the Red Carpet Thursday night at the Arlington Theatre. (Ryan Cullom / Noozhawk photo)

Robbie attracted a large contingent of young girls along the red carpet who chanted “Margot, Margot, Margot.” The blonde, blue-eyed actress wore an ivory strapless top with matching cropped pants, while the tall, dark-haired Janney donned a one-shoulder black midi dress.

During Feinberg’s interview, which was interspersed with film clips from their body of work, the moderator explored the very different career paths of the two accomplished actresses.  

Robbie was born in Dalby, Queensland, Australia. She spent much of her time growing up at the farm belonging to her grandparents.

At the age of 16, she auditioned for a role in a small indie film during her final year in high school.

She said, “During my early acting days, I worked at Subway as a ‘sandwich artist,’ as a house cleaner, and as a retail clerk in a surf shop.” 

Journalist Alexei Barrionuevo speaks with a Santa Barbara Junior High student Thursday night on the Red Carpet at the Arlington Theatre. Click to view larger
Journalist Alexei Barrionuevo speaks with a Santa Barbara Junior High student Thursday night on the Red Carpet at the Arlington Theatre. (Ryan Cullom / Noozhawk photo)

At 17, she auditioned for a part in the popular Australian soap opera “Neighbors."

“Luckily they were looking someone to play a 17-year-old,” she said.

Then she set off to pursue Hollywood opportunities, quickly landing the role of Laura Cameron on the short-lived ABC series “Pan Am.”

She made her big-screen debut in the film “About Time” in 2013.

Robbie rose to fame, however, co-starring with Leonardo DiCaprio, portraying the role of Naomi Lapaglia (DiCaprio’s wife) in Martin Scorsese's Oscar nominated film “Wall Street.”

She was nominated for a Breakthrough Performance MTV Movie Award, and numerous other awards for the role.

Robbie is especially proud of founding of her own production company, LuckyChap Entertainment.

“This gives me the freedom to be my own boss and chart my own career,” she said. 

Janney was born in Boston and won a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1984. She made her Broadway debut in the 1996 revival of “Present Laughter”.

Ironically, her girlhood dream was to be a figure skater.

“My dad was a real estate developer, and in one of his developments he had a skating rink where I would love to practice. But my dreams were dashed when I walked through a plate glass door and seriously cut tendons and arteries, so I could not skate again.”

Janney shared that she attended Canyon College along with actors Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, who took her under her their wing and got her roles in the theatre.

Janney’s most memorable work was in her role as C.J. Cregg in the NBC drama “The West Wing,” for which she earned four Emmys. She also won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Bonnie Plunkett on the CBS sitcom “Mom” (2013 to present).

She has appeared in numerous films, including the 1990’s "American Beauty," "The Object of My Affection," "Big Night," "The Impostors," "Drop Dead Gorgeous," "The Ice Storm," "Primary Colors," "10 Things I Hate About You," and "Private Parts," and the 2000’s films "Nurse Betty," "The Hours," "Margaret," and "Over the Hedge."

“At one point in my career I really didn’t have any money. My parents were very concerned. So I took three days of aptitude testing to see what else I might be besides an actor. They said I could be a systems analyst.

"Luckily, I got a call to work on 'American Beauty,' so I didn’t have to learn what a systems analyst was.”

The SBIFF is a nonprofit arts and education organization dedicated to making a positive impact utilizing the power of film. The festival is a year-round organization that is best known for its main film festival that takes place in February.

Over the past 32 years, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 90,000 attendees and offering 11days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums.

SBIFF has expanded its year-round operation to include a variety of educational programming, fulfilling its mission to engage, enrich and inspire the community through film.

For more information, contact SBIFF, 1528 Chapala Street #203, Santa Barbara 93101, phone 805.963.0023, or visit www.sbiff.org.

Rochelle Rose is a Noozhawk contributing writer and veteran of many Santa Barbara International Film Festivals. 

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