Oprah Winfrey Tapped for Santa Barbara Film Fest Honor

Following her role in this year’s hit, Lee Daniels’ “The Butler,” Oprah Winfrey will receive the Montecito Award at the 29th Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The thesp, producer and television host will be feted on Feb. 5 at the Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara.

The honor celebrates her role opposite Forest Whitaker as Gloria Gaines in “The Butler,” a performance that is already earning her Oscar buzz, as well as her overall career. “The Butler” was her first big-screen appearance excluding voice acting roles since 1998, when she starred in and produced Jonathan Demme’s “Beloved.” She made her acting debut in 1985 with “The Color Purple,” for which she was nominated for an Academy Award.

“Ms. Winfrey, the actress, inhabits Gloria Gaines with such gusto – she makes you forget Oprah the impresario,” said SBIFF executive director Roger Durling in a statement.

Past recipients of the honor include Daniel Day-Lewis, Geoffrey Rush, Julianne Moore, Kate Winslet, Jarvier Bardem, Naomi Watts and Annette Bening. Winfrey was previously feted in 2011 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

SBIFF runs Jan. 30-Feb 9.

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