When Lupita Nyong'o took the stage the other night to give her acceptance speech for winning her Oscar for 12 Years A Slave it was a truly special moment. She made it even better with her gracious acceptance speech, proving why she has been the darling of the annual Awards Season.
But her win meant a lot more than just for her. What her win did the most was symbolize what Hollywood is all about. It represented the magic of the business. And more importantly it was a reminder for all actors out there that in Hollywood your life can change literally and practically overnight. That really is the magic of this town and this business and why so many flock here. Most know that standing on that stage, trophy in hand, is a long shot. But they also know, as I say to clients all the time, if you put yourself out there, and keep taking steps, the magic is very possible and there is no requisite that it take forever or that there is one way to do it.
By now you may know the story of Nyong'o. She is a well trained actor, Yale educated. So she has the talent. But before 12 Years A Slave she was the proverbial unknown actor. Indeed this was her very first film as an actress on her resume. That is the magic. That is what propels so many. That is why we all love this business. In essence, she went from "no one" to someone in the span of one good part in one great film.
Is this normal? Does it give a false sense of the reality of Hollywood? Well of course it is not normal. Nothing about this business is. Does it give other actors trying to break into the business false hope? No it does not. What she did is indeed a reality. It can and does happen. Not every day of course and not for everyone. But that isn't the point.
The point is this business is a special and glorious one. It can indeed take a talented person from unknown, with no film credits, to the stage at the Oscars in one year. No one is pretending that will happen for everyone. And it is still a long shot. So actors, directors, writers, whatever the craft, have to put in the hard work to put themselves out there all the time. And even then it may not happen.
But as Nyong'o said in her acceptance speech, Hollywood is about the magic of dreams. And her very real story proves that Hollywood is still about making dreams come true. While there is no guarantee that dreaming will make it so, I can guarantee that never allowing yourself to even imagine it is possible, will make sure it doesn't. Do the work because you love the business, regardless of the outcome. But in Hollywood, putting one's dream into the mix is part of why we are all here. A world without dreams cannot be a good place. Even if the dream is a long shot, it matters, not just to you, but to all the others who benefit from your having the courage to put yours forth.
That is why the Oscars are always so special. And why this one triumph gives hope to so many.