Said Blake Callaway, Executive Director, IFC and SundanceTV, “Melissa and the unique circumstances of now will make this year’s ceremony like no other. It will certainly be a departure from the past, but with Melissa, the chances of Dolly, Ariana Grande, Bjork, Gwen Stefani, Julie Andrews and Lady Gaga showing up have skyrocketed.”
Past Spirit Awards hosts have included Aubrey Plaza, Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, Kate McKinnon and Kumail Nanjiani, Fred Armisen and Kristen Bell, Patton Oswalt, Andy Samberg, Joel McHale, Sarah Silverman, Samuel L. Jackson, Queen Latifah and John Waters, just to name a few. The show will be executive produced and directed by Joel Gallen of Tenth Planet Production for the seventh consecutive year. Shawn Davis returns as executive producer for Film Independent for his 19th year, Rick Austin returns as producer for his sixth year and Danielle Federico and Andrew Schaff also return as co-producers.
A comedic impressions expert, Villaseñor got her start as a semifinalist on America’s Got Talent. When not onstage channeling the likes of Lady Gaga and Dolly Parton, Melissa can be found voicing characters in animated shows and films including Toy Story 4 and Ralph Breaks the Internet; appearing as herself with Jerry Seinfeld in Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee; and in projects such as Hubie Halloween, Barry and Crashing, among others. She is currently working on her first book, a creative self-help journal forthcoming from Chronicle Books.
The 2021 Spirit Award nominations were revealed in a special video announcement on January 26, presented by guest emcees Laverne Cox, Barry Jenkins and Olivia Wilde. Best Feature nominees include First Cow, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Minari, Never Rarely Sometimes Always and Nomadland.
Additionally, for the first time ever, this year’s Spirit Award nominees will make up 100% of the panelists at this year’s expanded Directors Close-Up series, Film Independent’s perennial sellout event featuring in-depth panel discussions with the year’s most celebrated filmmakers. This year, the entire program will be presented under the Spirit Awards umbrella.