…”No matter where youre from, your DREAMS ARE ALWAYS VALID.”
I think I cried last night when they called her name, what a well deserved historic honor to such a beautiful humble spirit. We have featured Lupita before on the blog and while we knew she was talented and so very classy and smart we still were not prepared for her win. Lupita won the Academy Award for best supporting actress for her portrayal of slave Patsey in the movie 12 Years A Slave.
Now Lupita has been winning all week, she took the same award at the Screen Actors Guild awards, she won at the Broadcast Film Critics Association and she has been celebrated in many cities across the US and in her own country where Kenyans there and everywhere are so very proud.
Although we love Lupita’s gorgeous gowns and she totally owned the red carpet in her blue Prada number yesterday, today we want to concentrate more on what she said as she accepted her award. In her acceptance speech Lupita said this:
It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to someone else’s pain.
She thanked the character she played, honoring Patsey’s spirit in a humbling speech that brought many to tears. 12 Years A Slave took it all in the end and we liked that Essence.com posed the question, they asked – What does Lupita’s win mean to you?
I will start – My belief is that her win represents another victory for black artists, professionals, enthusiasts, inventors and most of all little black girls around the world who have ever felt less that worthy but after watching her win, now they know that all their dreams are truly valid.
Within the black community we still have hang-ups on beauty as it is defined by the exterior. Lupita made the point that beauty is defined by compassion, your internal value, kindness, respect and love for each other. When you define it this way, the color of your skin becomes irrelevant and what matters is who we are as a people or as individuals.
You can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul.
I loved her speech but I am not naïve to the struggle that we still have as individuals wanting equality in a world that only validates us when someone who is well respected and of a different shade validates us.
Steve Mcqueen thanked Brad Pitt because without him the movie would not have happened, or maybe it would have but probably not been as successful as it was.
We will leave you with her speech at the Essence Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon:
I wrote down this speech that I had no time to practice so this will be the practicing session. Thank you Alfre, for such an amazing, amazing introduction and celebration of my work. And thank you very much for inviting me to be a part of such an extraordinary community.
I am surrounded by people who have inspired me, women in particular whose presence on screen made me feel a little more seen and heard and understood. That it is ESSENCE that holds this event celebrating our professional gains of the year is significant, a beauty magazine that recognizes the beauty that we not just possess but also produce.
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. I could never have guessed that my first job out of school would be so powerful in and of itself and that it would propel me to be such an image of hope in the same way that the women of The Color Purple were to me.
I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned.
The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first. And every day I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I had been the day before.
I tried to negotiate with God: I told him I would stop stealing sugar cubes at night if he gave me what I wanted; I would listen to my mother’s every word and never lose my school sweater again if he just made me a little lighter. But I guess God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because He never listened.
And when I was a teenager my self-hate grew worse, as you can imagine happens with adolescence. My mother reminded me often that she thought that I was beautiful but that was no consolation: She’s my mother, of course she’s supposed to think I am beautiful.
And then Alek Wek came on the international scene. A celebrated model, she was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was. Even Oprah called her beautiful and that made it a fact.
I couldn’t believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me as beautiful. My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome and all of a sudden, Oprah was telling me it wasn’t. It was perplexing and I wanted to reject it because I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy.
But a flower couldn’t help but bloom inside of me. When I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny. Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty, but around me the preference for light skin prevailed.
To the beholders that I thought mattered, I was still unbeautiful. And my mother again would say to me, “You can’t eat beauty. It doesn’t feed you.” And these words plagued and bothered me; I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be.
And what my mother meant when she said you can’t eat beauty was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul. It is what got Patsey in so much trouble with her master, but it is also what has kept her story alive to this day. We remember the beauty of her spirit even after the beauty of her body has faded away.
And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside. There is no shade to that beauty.
What a beautiful and heartfelt speech! Lupita is a ray of light in all of this hoopla, her intelligence is impeccable and her message is beyond awesome, she uses her stage well and I am proud of that. Congratulations again Lupita!