Once a year, the human race’s most beautiful and talented elite gather together in their most glamorous attire to attend the Oscars. This year, the 87th Academy Awards unleashed its usual flood of celebs in million dollar dresses, over the top musical performances, and witty hosts. (Shout out to Neil Patrick Harris’ balls joke.)
However, along with all of the usual things we expect from an award show, this year we also saw an unusual number of celebrities using their acceptance speeches for a cause.
Leading up to the Oscars, Reese Witherspoon supported and promoted #AskHerMore. Her efforts are against sexist red carpet interviews. Witherspoon, along with other female celebs including Grey’s Anatomy creator, Shonda Rhimes, and actress Jennifer Garner spoke out to encourage interviewers to veer away from typical “who are you wearing?” questions and instead dive deeper into their causes, their beliefs, and their stories.
Graham Moore, who won Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game used his acceptance speech to talk about suicide awareness. He discussed his own struggle with suicide and encouraged young people who feel different or unaccepted to be themselves and embrace individuality.
John Legend used his win for Best Original Song to talk about America’s prison issues, shocking audiences with statistics and explaining that there are more black men in correctional facilities today than were enslaved in 1850.
Best Supporting Actress winner Patricia Arquette used her speech as a platform to eloquently and passionately discuss wage equality and women’s rights.
As ‘Noles, it is our duty to loyally support and unconditionally stand behind our team and that means also standing behind our beloved star QB. Jameis was, for a while, the face of Florida State. He was given a platform. And though we laughed off every stupid mistake and inappropriate remark, we vigorously defended him in the face of horrible allegations. As ‘Noles it was our duty to show unwavering support, it would be dishonest to say that at some point we weren’t disappointed with how he used his platform.
Every day we see celebs either screwing up or striving to make a difference with the large platform they are given. But this is why it matters: You have one too. What are you doing with the platform you are given?
It can be hard to make waves when you’re the small fish in a big pond. College is big and the world is even bigger. Most of us aren’t being featured on ESPN or winning Oscars. So what is your platform? How do you make a difference?
Start by making ripples.
If you have a little sister, teach her how to respect herself. If you were given a leadership position in a sorority, show younger girls what it means to succeed. To own up to mistakes, talk about them; make sure others don’t make the same ones.
Everyone, with his or her own individual goals, has a different definition of what it means to be successful. To the stars and filmmakers that attend the Oscars and to the talent and writers behind the Grammys, the definition of success is to stand on a stage with a trophy and say thank you.
Whether your platform will be a classroom full of middle school students, a column in the newspaper, or on stage with the rest of the stars, it’s what you do with the platform that should define success. Future teachers, teach your students to love unconditionally. Teach them kindness. Teach them that bullying isn’t okay, before a star has to stand before a crowd and talk about their struggle with suicide. Future writers, write what matters and write why. Future award winning actress or filmmakers or editors, stand on a stage and use it to speak truth and importance.
Use your platform to promote integrity and goodness. Because what you do with what you earn is as important as what you did to earn it.