The 89th Academy Awards celebrated the work of numerous Hollywood talents over the weekend at the Dolby Theatre. Among those honored were the extraordinary actresses Viola Davis and Emma Stone. Both women reacted to their wins backstage, giving us a glimpse of their individual journeys which ultimately lead to winning the highest esteemed awards in the industry.
Viola Davis’ portrayal of Rose in Fences earned her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The film follows an African-American family in 1950’s Pittsburg. By winning this award, she became the first African-American to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting: winning an Emmy, Tony, and Oscar in Acting categories*. Davis was overcome with gratitude as she reflected on her first Academy win, saying, “I can’t believe my life…I grew up in poverty. You know, I grew up in apartments that were condemned and rat-infested. And I just always sort of wanted to be somebody. I just wanted to be good at something. So this is sort of like the miracle of God of dreaming big and just hoping that it sticks and it lands–and it did. Who knew? So, I’m overwhelmed.”
In her Oscar speech, Davis passionately expressed her desire to tell the stories “of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition, people who fell in love and lost.” Portraying Rose was a great example of telling such stories.
Delving into the theme of following aspirations, La La Land‘s subject matter centers on the importance of following your dreams despite the certainty of encountering many obstacles. The film won a whopping six Oscars over the weekend including honoring its star, Emma Stone, for Best Actress. Backstage, Stone explained how she always dreamed of winning an Oscar, calling it an “incredible honor” and “in many ways game changing.” In regards to playing aspiring actress Mia Dolan, Emma said, “To play this woman, I’ve lived here for thirteen years, I moved when I was 15 to start auditioning. And I knew what it felt like to go on audition after audition. So I mean anything like this [winning the Oscar] is pretty inconceivable in a realistic context.”
When asked, “How much does an Oscar cost in terms of sacrifice and discipline?” Emma replied, “Is that measurable?…In my life, I have been beyond lucky with the people around me, with the friends and family that I have, and the people that have lifted me up throughout my life. So in terms of sacrifice those people are all sitting back in a room right now and I get to go celebrate with them. And it’s felt like the most joyous thing. So I mean, being a creative person does not feel like I sacrificed to me. It’s the great joy of my life…I’ve been very lucky in terms of that one.”
But with all the recognition, Stone attributes her success to luck and opportunity, and insists, “I still have a lot of growing and learning and work to do,” and she’s grateful to continue on her acting journey.
Congratulations Emma and Viola!
*It should be noted, Whoopi Goldberg is one of the few people to win an Oscar, a Grammy, a Tony, and an Emmy; however, her Tony came from producing the Broadway musical Thoroughly Modern Mille rather than acting.