I’ve never watched the Oscars before. Oh, I’ve tuned in for a few minutes, or skipped through on my way to something else or maybe even looked for Billy Crystal telling jokes, but I’ve never watched the Oscars on purpose. And what a night — Lupita Nyong’o’s night!
My Twitter and Facebook friends had alerted me to this spectacular young woman earlier. If you haven’t read her moves-you-to-tears acceptance speech for Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood award, go and do it now.
No? If you didn’t click on over there, read this paragraph — and then go read the whole speech:
“I want to take this opportunity to talk about beauty. Black beauty. Dark beauty. I received a letter from a girl and I’d like to share just a small part of it with you: ‘Dear Lupita,’ it reads, ‘I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.’ My heart bled a little when I read those words.”
It’s a night of amazing women — Ellen Degeneres hosting the show; His Eye is on the Sparrow as the acceptance speech of 20 Feet from Stardom; Sally Fields, my hero since Norma Rae, and an activist off-screen as well as on; Cheryl Boon Isaacs, first African American woman to head the Academy; Whoopi Goldberg in magic ruby slippers — so many wonderful women.
But most of all, Lupita Nyong’o:
“It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is due to so much pain in someone else’s.”
“Thank you for putting me in this position; it has been the joy of my life … I’m certain that the dead are standing around you and saluting you.”
“When I look down at this little statue, may it remind me and every other child that your dreams are valid.”
(Washington Post has transcript of Lupita Nyong’o Oscar speech here.)