I stare down at the sea of people in front of me and am at a loss for words. Many years ago, this was all just a pipe dream. I took a distant shot at it, knowing that if I did fail, at least I had the courage to try. By the grace of God, the film got made and the rest was, as they say, history.
Winning an Oscar was always a joke, a dream that made for a good sleep but was never the intention in any way. The goal was to make a film that people could see parts of themselves in, an authentic and genuine story about life – something that acknowledges the struggle and the fight. Something that would make them feel hope.
I look out and see Amy Adams and I smile. She smiles back. Suddenly, I know where to begin.
“Amy, ever since I first saw you in The Fighter, I knew I just had to work with you and I’m deeply grateful for the chance to. Thank you for giving a script from a first timer a shot and pouring your soul into this. To the rest of the ensemble led by Amy, you guys are the heart of this film – without all of you, none of this would be possible. To the cast and crew who poured in time and sweat into making my sprawling dream a reality, for keeping me in check and inspiring me to dream a little bigger still, thank you.”
“To my parents, who taught me to dream and the importance of being grounded and having a strong foundation, thank you. When I was young we would always have debates on dreams vs pragmatism… these long interminable debates at times…. But over the course of my life, I’ve come to learn that for all of us, it’s a little bit of both. To my sister who can’t be here because she’s opening her last show on Broadway tomorrow, (all the best girl!) thank you for giving me the courage to give this a chance.”
“Damien, it’s been about 25 years since I watched you step on to this very stage for La La Land but what you said that night echoes deeply till today. At its core, this too is a film about love. I haven’t been lucky enough to find that but life has, and continues to show, that love manifests in a myriad of ways. To the lady that inspired this me, thank you for having been a part of my life.”
“And above all, to my son and daughter here tonight who look like they’re most interested in the food than me (I’ve had my place stolen by food countless time, this is nothing new), thank you for being my guiding light every single day. You are why I do what I do and I hope I have, and continue to make you proud.”
“Thank you very much.”