The Oscars can be a tedious affair, what with all the self-indulgence and long-winded speeches. But Jared Leto and Lupita Nyong’o were two Oscar winners who reached beyond themselves to thank those who paved their way and to spark dreams and hope in those hearing their words.
Accepting the Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in “Dallas Buyers Club,” Leto delivered a moving salute to his mother and paid homage to the people of Ukraine and Venezuela and the millions who died of AIDS.
In 1971, Bossier City, Louisiana, there was a teenage girl who was pregnant with her second child. She was a high school dropout and a single mom, but somehow she managed to make a better life for herself and her children. She encouraged her kids to be creative, to work hard and to do something special. That girl is my mother and she’s here tonight. And I just want to say, I love you, Mom. Thank you for teaching me to dream….
To all the dreamers out there around the world watching this tonight in places like the Ukraine and Venezuela, I want to say we are here and as you struggle to… to make your dreams happen, to live the impossible… We’re thinking of you tonight….
And this for the 36 million people who have lost the battle to AIDS and to those of you out there who have ever felt injustice because of who you are or who you love, tonight I stand here in front of the world with you and for you. Thank you so much and goodnight.
According to the Hartford Courant, Nyong’o had not even graduated from the Yale School of Drama when she got the best supporting actress-winning role of Patsey in “12 Years a Slave,” her first film. The powerful movie based on the account of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped from the north and sold into slavery, also won the Oscar for best picture. In addition to thanking her family and the cast and crew, Nyong’o lauded Northup and Patsey.
Thank you to the Academy for this incredible recognition. It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s. And so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance. And for Solomon, thank you for telling her story and your own…..
When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid. Thank you.
Nyong’o knows of what she speaks. She was born in Mexico City in 1983 and raised in Kenya when she and her parents returned a few years later. The film performances of Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey were her inspirations for getting into acting.
With all the headline-grabbing antics and bad behavior of so many in Tinseltown, Leto and Nyong’o were wonderful reminders that even in such a jaded town as Hollywood, dreams not only inspire, they come true.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj