Charles Melton Delivers Emotional Speech Accepting Breakthrough Performance At Critic’s Choice For ‘May December’

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Actor Charles Melton made a name for himself in the entertainment industry for his role as teen heartthrob Reggie Mantle on the CW’s controversial “Riverdale.” Amid the show’s recent end after a lengthy seven season run of the show, Melton has begun branching out in his career, beginning with a role as Joe Yoo in “May December” alongside Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore. The film from acclaimed director Todd Haynes received widespread praise in the festival circuit, and now continues to attract critical and audience acclaim after dropping on Netflix. Melton took home the award for breakthrough performance at the Critic’s Choice Awards for his role in the film.

“May December” is loosely based on the notorious Mary Kay Letourneau case of the 1990s, in which Letourneau, a 36-year-old teacher, was caught having an intimate relationship with her then 12-year-old student Vili Fulaau. Melton is being widely praised for his performance, and for the representation of a phenomenon that affects young Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) men and boys and remains under covered. Melton himself is half Korean.

“May December” And Mary Kay Letourneau

The relationship between the real life Filaau and Letourneau began in 1996, after Letourneau had taught a young Fulaau in both her second and sixth grade classes. The teacher had previously been married to her college boyfriend Steve Letourneau from Arizona State University, and went on to have four children with him.  They officially divorced while Letourneau was imprisoned in 1999 after being convicted of child rape.

Following her release from a six month prison sentence, she violated a no-contact order and conceived her second child with Fulaau, resulting in a longer prison sentence. The ordeal caused a young Fulaau to drop out of high school and struggle with alcoholism. Letourneau passed away from colon cancer in 2020, and is survived by all six of her children (four from her first marriage, and two daughters from her second) and reportedly left much of her estate to Fulaau.

SEATAC, WA – APRIL 3: ***EXCLUSIVE, SPECIAL PRICES APPLY *** Vili Fualaau appears in court in SeaTac, Washington April 3, 2006 for a hearing to determine if he is to stand trial on a drunken driving charge. The judge set a trial date for April 26 for Fualaa, the husband of Mary Kay Letourneau, his former sixth grade teacher who was convicted of child rape for having sex with Fualaau. (Photo by Ron Wurzer/Getty Images)


The scandal was the subject of a global tabloid frenzy for its shocking nature. The case was among the first in recent decades to involve a female predator, and the implications of how it was handled by the mass media and onlookers alike continue to linger. “May December”, while loosely based on the real case, offers a rare glimpse into the emotional trauma that Fulaau could have experienced, and men who are survivors of sexual assault and emotional abuse at large.


Public Reactions

Fans of Melton’s previous work and viewers familiar with the real-life inspiration behind “May December” continue to share their favorite aspects of his performance and the most chilling parts of the film.

Particularly, Melton’s ability to portray a man who appears emotionally stunted by losing his formative years to a relationship of this nature continues to serve as a testament to his acting abilities.

Melton continues to generate Oscar buzz for his role. Oscar nominations are to be announced January 23, 2024.


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