“Chad, we will always love you”

Chadwick Boseman is officially a Disney legend.

The “Black Panther” star was presented alongside fellow stars Anthony Anderson, Kristen Bell and Josh Gad at Friday’s Disney Legends Awards at the D23 Expo. Boseman’s brother Derrick Boseman accepted the award on behalf of his late brother.

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“When I heard that Disney wanted to honor Chad, the first word that came to mind was the word honor,” Boseman said. “As I think about my brother and this honor being given to him, I wish he was here to receive it. Not being here was a point of immense pain for my entire family. But as I think of him, I think of how he honored our parents. How he honored his family. How he even honored his friends, and made sure his friends had a good career. How did he honor all the contracts he signed? He honored them with his blood, his sweat, his tears, playing these roles and undergoing chemotherapy at the same time.”

The Disney Legends Award, a 35-year tradition from the company, is presented to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the Disney legacy. Boseman, who died in 2020 after a private battle with cancer, was recognized posthumously for his famous role as King T’Challa in the 2018 Marvel blockbuster “Black Panther.” Thanks in part to Boseman’s famous performance, the film became widely acclaimed, earning a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards and grossing over $1.3 billion worldwide.

“Chad was an amazing person,” his brother continued. “Plato is credited with coining the phrase that ‘art imitates life.’ But Oscar Wilde came after him and said, “Life imitates art.” And in Chad’s case it seems that life imitates art. If we pay attention to this thing called storytelling, a story is being told to all of us… Thank you for honoring my brother. I mean say: Chad, we will always love you. And mommy and daddy will always love you. To me, mom and dad are also legends. Because it takes a king and a queen to make a king.”

Along with Boseman, this year’s honorees were “Grey’s Anatomy” stars Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo. Anderson and Trace Ellis Ross were also inducted for their work on ABC’s hit comedy “Black-ish.”

“First, I’d like to say that it’s an honor to stand before you as a Disney legend. Growing up in Compton, California, about 25 miles west of here, Disney was always in the background,” Anderson said in his acceptance speech. “Disney has taught us all to dream. And dream big. And it’s been said that if your dreams don’t scare you, then you’re not dreaming big enough. Disney has inspired me and I hope it continues to inspire us all to dream bigger than life… I hope to stand before you as an example of what hard work, determination, dedication, sacrifice and dreams are all about.”

Stars from Disney’s “Frozen” were also recognized at the ceremony, including Bell, Gad, Jonathan Groff and Idina Menzel. “Frozen,” released in 2013, quickly became one of Disney’s biggest hits, with songs like “Let it Go” and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” taking popular culture by storm. In 2019, the cast members returned for “Frozen II,” a sequel that surpassed its predecessor at the box office with a worldwide gross of over $1.4 billion.

“I’d like to say I feel sorry for any parent who had to listen to ‘Frozen’ on loop. I feel you, I see you, I am you. I get it,” Bell joked in her speech. She continued: “Disney taught me to dream big and follow your heart. And that it’s perfectly fine for me to be involved in singing at all times, which I really appreciate. Playing Princess Anne was the highlight of my life I think – I mean other than my kids and stuff.”

Groff added: “As a young gay boy growing up in the late ’80s, early ’90s in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Disney VHS tapes were my primary escape. I dressed up as Peter Pan, as Alice in Wonderland, as Cinderella… Disney was my complete life as a child. And to voice the role of Kristoff in ‘Frozen’ is a complete dream come true. And it’s very special to be here with Idina and Kristen and Josh. I love all three of you so much and I am so happy that we are forever bound to each other in this movie… So thank you for creating a space where even little boys can wear their Anna and Elsa dresses and to sing and express themselves like true Disney legends.”

Other members of the Disney Legends included many behind-the-scenes playmakers, including dreamers Rob’t Coltrin and Doris Hardoon, legal counsel Robert Price Foster, producer Don Hahn, and Walt Disney Music president Chris Montan.

“I know what you all are thinking. “Who the hell is this guy?” Coltrin said as he took the stage. “We’re imaginative and for the most part we’re kind of invisible. And that’s okay. We work behind the scenes and let our creations be the stars you come out to see. Except for days like this when you drag us behind the curtain, and here I am.”

The Disney Legends Awards ceremony kicked off the D23 convention in Anaheim, a three-day event featuring panels and presentations for all of Disney’s biggest properties, including Pixar, Lucasfilm and Marvel.

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