Whether you watched the Academy Awards on Sunday or just looked at what everyone wore online the next day, many of us would raise a timid hand when asked if we ever practiced an acceptance speech in the mirror while grasping your shampoo Oscar. I’m not ashamed to admit that when I was acting in high school and thought for half a second I might actually be at the Kodak Theater (now sadly the Hollywood & Highland Center), I went through at least four drafts. I watched the Awards on Sunday night and while I’m happy for all the winners, their acceptance speeches always seem so formulaic. Thank you agent, thank you director, thank you Academy!
Sometimes the winners make it interesting by flying off the handle like Angelina Jolie in 2000 or Michael Moore in 2003, but for the most part moving acceptance speeches are few and far in between. The best ones (Tom Hanks for Philadelphia, Julia Roberts for Erin Brockovich, Halle Berry for Monsters Ball) have qualities that are applicable to every Collegiette’s day-to-day life.
Don’t under or over prepare. Simple in theory, difficult in execution and inspiring when pulled off. Under-preparing shows lack of dedication while over-preparing can come off as arrogant or unnerving. Have a plan, but leave room for adjustment . Accepting defeat gracefully falls under this category. No one practices their “I’m so happy for the winner!” face, but four out of five nominees have to use it.
Thank those who deserve recognition. Take a second to think of the people who have truly helped you get where you are today: great former bosses, fantastic professors and advisors, friends who have tirelessly cheered you on. Write them a thank you note as soon as you finish reading this. Actually, write it now. Nothing means more than receiving genuine thanks from someone who means a lot to you. Write a kind note to someone you may have beat out for a position (your fellow nominees), to make sure there’s no bad blood and to congratulate them for their talent and effort. The most important thing is to be genuine and recognize the ability of others who make what you do possible.
Be humble, keep it short. “You are never so great that you can’t be replaced.” My high school acting teacher used to tell us this, and it was proved time and time again. Don’t get so wrapped up in how great you are that you become boastful or dependent on others for your happiness. My least favorite Oscar moments (James Cameron’s “I’m king of the world!” and Sally Field’s “you really like me!”) make me cringe. I get it, Cameron was referencing his movie, but don’t you think it would have been more gracious to reference Titanic to once being “the ship of dreams,” or “never letting go” (of his love for movies, his Oscar, etc.)? And Sally, who only saw her career in a legitimate light once she won an award, got so caught up in being recognized that she didn’t stop until she uttered the most embarrassingly thankful phrase in history. Have you ever heard anyone imitate her in seriousness? No. Stop yourself before what you’re doing becomes excessive, uncomfortable, or unnecessary. On 6th street, when writing papers and cover letters, in interviews, meeting potential dates, or talking to professors, keep it kind and classy. Be the stylish winner you are!
Photo Credit: Dave_B’s_Photostream on Flickr