Okay…what happened last night? It was AWESOME. It was drama in real time.
First of all…my husband fried chicken from scratch and I promise you if I didn’t see him DO it I woulda sworn it was the ancestors up in my kitchen. I was gonna take a picture of it, but you know how things like that work out.
I was SO looking forward to the supporting acting categories because I am in LOVE with both Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis and was really rooting for their victories. Like…I GAVE a shit, okay? On House of Cards Remy is my favorite character, so I’ve been following Mahershalas career as it has EXPLODED. And Viola Davis can bring out emotion in me with so much as a look.
Her speech was long and heart felt. And that’s all I can ask of someone…if you’re going to go long, be true. My brother however had less patience for her musings and started mumbling about…I don’t even know…actors not being artists. Etc. Something that silmultaneously pissed me off and hurt my (albeit pregnant) feelings.
I work with actors, I build my trust around actors and have seen and admired everything they put into their work. I could never do it, it’s not like just anyone can. It is a craft, a talent, honed and devised as much as any other profession. They are the liaisons from the writer to the director to the world. They translate human emotion and story into personal, edible chunks you can chew on. Something you can recognize from the abstract. Relate to. They spend long hours giving themselves up for their characters, sacrificing their life selves for their work selves, for my sake. And for yours. If just ANYBODY could do it, I don’t even think most would choose it. I wouldn’t. Put myself out there like that? And I’m already out there!
Maybe he was comparing it to being a Doctor like my sister-in-law or a teacher. Arguably, two of the hardest and most important jobs on Earth. I mean, you can’t get more important than a Doctor, really. But there needs to be no comparison. Everything can exist, in its own realm, in its own importance in the ecosystem of our society. And what more appropriate time for an actor to discuss the importance of their chosen field than on an international stage, accepting an award for their tremendous accomplishment?
I fear, these are the same sentiments shared by thousands across the web. That these artists should stick to entertainment, puppets on a string, not yet a real boy. Devaluing their presence as both people and societal contributors. The same message received from Congress as the Arts and Humanties funded by the NEA, faces the federal chopping block. (A savings of 0.06% of the annual budget. Or, 1.34 per person for programs like PBS kids, NPR, etc) and a sector that employs thousaands of working artists every year, myself included. It’s a hard thing to hear so often that your passion, your art and chosen career really doesn’t matter. As if it’s something you can just put down and move on to the next 9-5. Now, it’s more important than ever to vocalize the importance of art in all it’s varied disciplines. To remind kids growing up in this weird time, their dreams matter, no matter what they are. To think of a world without art, I can’t think of a world at all.
You know, there’s one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered. One place. And that’s the graveyard. People ask me all the time: ‘What kind of stories do you want to tell Viola?’ And I say exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories. The stories of the people who dreamed big, and never saw those dreams to fruition. People who fell in love and lost. I became an artist and thank god I did because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life. -Viola Davis, 2017 Oscars
I WILL say, I divest from her sentiments slightly on the “only” profession to celebrate living a life–but she is in a room of peers and she does know her audience.
But actors face rejection in their field only rivaled by I don’t know…Writers? Hahaha. If you’re seeing them on that stage, you can imagine they’ve gone through incredible adversity to get there. Especially black actresses. I still live in a world where excellence in your field matters to me. I feel that’s slipping away in American culture and only to our detriment. I realized this on a comment page a couple of months ago, when a guy from Cleveland commented on an op-ed from The New Yorker. This piece was written by Noam Chomsky, on the state of the union, and this man asked, “Who the hell is Noam Chomsky and why is his opinion more important than mine?”
I cringe. I digress.
I suppose to think an actor isn’t an artist can be spun. If you’re on the outside of it, you don’t see the tremendous dedication most bring to their roles. You don’t see the WORK, because they made it look easy. So maybe that’s doing the job.
On a side note; Faye Dunaway was the one to screw that up, not Warren ‘Heartthrob’ Beatty. Congrats to all of the well-deserved winners!
Writing my senator about upholding the NEA budget,