Winners triumph again with emboldened acceptance speeches this awards season

Tell us how you really feel.

Hollywood’s awards season is in full swing and if the winning speeches at the recent Golden Globe and Critics Choice Awards are any indication, humor and humble bragging are in style.

It used to be that a speech with anything perceived as boasting would generate backlash, sometimes for years. See Sally Field at the 1985 Oscars ceremony, who when she won her Oscar for “Places in the Heart,” said, “I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me!” Or James Cameron, who is still explaining his “king of the world” quote, a moment he described as “cringeworthy,” in a speech for his best director Oscar in 1998 for “Titanic.”

But producer Mike White and actors Niecy Nash, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Michelle Yeoh and Jennifer Coolidge seemed to have figured out a way to boast without backlash.

From Yeoh telling show producers of the Golden Globes that she could “beat you up” if played offstage to Cate Blanchett calling out Hollywood for pitting women against each other, winning has become an opportunity to tell it like it is.

Go ahead, namecheck the executives in the room who passed on your show. Why not thank yourself while you’re at it?

Coolidge, who won a Golden Globe for best supporting actress in a limited series for “The White Lotus,” gave credit to White, who created the series, along with a handful of people who threw her roles when she thought her career had flatlined.

“There were, like, five people that kept me going for 20 years with these little jobs,” Coolidge said, adding, “And I just want to say, Mike White, you’ve given me hope.”

When White took the stage for his own speech for the best limited series win, he acknowledged he had sipped a few drinks and joked that everyone had turned down “The White Lotus” when he initially pitched it. He pointed into the crowd and said, “I know you all passed, you all passed on this show,” adding that because of that rejection, it was especially “gratifying to have this moment.”

Ralph, one of the stars of “Abbott Elementary,” which won two Critics Choice Awards last weekend, also referenced feeling rejected at times in her career. She thanked the late Sidney Poitier for keeping her going.

“Every mistake, every back break, every ‘No’, every rejection in an industry that when I was 19 years old was quick to tell me there was no place for me,” she said, adding, “Sidney Poitier looked at me and said, ‘You’re a damn good actress.'”

Niecy Nash-Betts, who took home a Critics Choice Award for best supporting actress in a limited series for “Dahmer,” thanked her mother and called out those who didn’t believe in her.

To the show’s creator Ryan Murphy and Netflix, she said, “You picked me up when I was gutted from this work.” She concluded with, “Finally, to everybody who doubted this Black woman and told me what I couldn’t do, I want to lovely and humbly say, ‘In your face!'”

Hilari Weinstein, president of High Impact Communication, tracks trends in speeches throughout history and said we are experiencing a moment in our culture when thank you lists are not enough.

“More nominees are putting thought into what they want to communicate should they be called to the stage,” she told CNN. “The formulaic recitation of names was a sign for many viewers [to] take a potty break.”

Weinstein added that more people may be speaking their truth because it’s an opportunity to use your voice during an experience “many only dream of and few will ever get.”

“I hope we see less reading names, less unpreparedness and more winners using their personal stories to inspire others,” she said.

Weinstein pointed to Ralph, a singer and actor who has been performing for four decades, as especially inspiring to those of us who may have felt like underdogs in our own lives.

“To all of you watching here, come close to the screen and listen,” Ralph said as she concluded her Critics Choice speech. “People don’t have to like you. People don’t have to love you. They don’t even have to respect you. But when you look in the mirror, you better love what you see. You better love what you see!”

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