As a young girl I used to look forward to watching all the award shows – the Grammys, MTV Awards, Golden Globes and of course the Oscars. I was enchanted by the glamour of it all; the hairstyles, the clothes, the make up, the red carpet walk, the speeches and watching out to see which star would be musically sounded off stage for overrunning on time. I was fascinated by that world. As I have gotten older and busier, I have gone to the cinema less and less and haven’t been too engaged with award ceremonies as much as I used to.
Hollywood has always had someone that for whatever reason, best known to the powers that be, is singled out as who they feel we should watch out for. I remember vividly when Tom Hanks won his Oscar for Forest Gump and he was literally hurled into every film role imaginable. It felt, at that time, that there was no other male lead available. He was the star of the time. A similar thing happened with Julia Roberts. That doesn’t happen very often. There are many talented actors that have not been honoured with an Oscar. I’m sure you will have a list of people who you feel should be honoured and have been unjustifiably ignored by the society – a table of men and women, who lobby for the actor of their liking. A very political table.
My concern about the ‘worship’ of Lupita at the moment is I hope it won’t derail her. I know I’m out of it but until 12 years a slave, I’d never heard of her. Turns out that neither had the world and after the film came out, I didn’t know who she was until the Golden Globes (that’s how out of it I am). So from the perspective of someone who isn’t quite an enthralled by Hollywod, I’m quite surprised at how quickly, persistently and almost religiously Lupita is adored. Yes she is beautiful. From what I have gathered, she is also talented and by virtue of attending Yale Drama school she is presumed intelligent. She is also articulate and an inspiring public speaker so she yeah, she is charismatic. I’m intrigued but not overly enthused nor do I get the effervescent adulation that’s seeping out of the press and social media- for someone we’ve only known for two minutes.
Already she’s a style icon, a role model and a brilliant actor. I’m not saying she isn’t but how do we know she is these things? She has been flung to the top of the hill almost instantaneously and we don’t know other than what Hollywood, the press and what she shows us. Can we please give her some time to show us who she is? Let us come to love her for all of her talent and what she says over time. For all we know she is a one dimensional actor. I haven’t seen the film with Liam Neeson as well so maybe she has displayed some versatility there but that’s still two films.
Humans have a way of flocking in droves to the beat of the press. All it takes is for her to be caught twerking and suddenly she won’t be as adored. There is nothing extraordinary about Lupita other than the rarity of having someone with her skin colour on that stage. Hollywood is littered with beautiful, intelligent and well educated women. It always has been. As Cate Blanchett has evangelically highlighted, there are few roles for women; and there’ll be even fewer roles for a black women. Nevertheless, as my husband would say, it’s her time now and I can get the Simon Cowell-esque way in which everyone is flocking towards her because it is a rarity. I guess at the very best it would be a case of if we will see another Julia Roberts-like proliferation or if she will find other authentic ways of winning like Marisa Tomei, Helen Hunt, Kathy Bates, et al.
As far as dreams go though, for a Kenyan girl to dream of winning an Oscar and for her debut role to grant her that wish is quite magical. There is an aspect of it that has time and chance written all over it. I hope she is able to hold on to it and turn it into gold dust and I hope she has a darn good agent. Most of all, I hope she is smarter than to listen to the all the hype and keep her dreams alive.