6 Reasons Why You Should Practice Your Oscar Speech
There is a deep level of sacred intimacy that is established within the confines of an acting class. It is a prism for the myriad of emotions and experiences that one experiences in life. The night before the Academy Awards, we had one hell of an acting class.
I’m Harry Lopez, an actor and professional coach. I was one of many Latinos sitting on my couch in Miami with tears dripping down my face as I watched the Pixar Animated movie, Coco win the award for Best Animated Feature at the 90th Academy Awards. Watching my culture so vibrantly celebrated and represented both on screen and at the Oscars was one of the most electrifying and euphoric experiences of my life. This honor represents both a change in the representation of Latinos on television and a reminder that our Latino culture matters now more than ever before - particularly in light of recent tragic socio-political events.
I walked into acting class on Monday night the way I normally did - a little before 8pm just in time to get a good seat - not too close to the stage, but also not too far away. I knew we’d be practicing an intense scene. We typically just jump right in after a few announcements and reflections. My acting coach, Michael Jacques, freshened his tightly pressed blue dress shirt and perfectly placed pants as he drank from his Diet Coke and announced, “Class..We’re doing Oscar Night. You’ll come up on stage and give your ‘acceptance speech’ for Best Actor in a Feature Film.
Students’ eyes turned left and right as we all exchanged puzzled glances.
I’d typically get super nervous about having to do a vulnerable exercise like this in front of my peers. I leaned into my edge and joined the challenge.
Although many of us in that room will never grace the stage of the Academy Awards, for that singular moment, none of that mattered. We were all stars. And these are my takeaways from the potency of the experience and why you should try it, too:
1. Creative Visualization
Practicing your speech (whether in an acting class, in the shower, or in your car on the way to work) is powerful because it has you step into creative visualization and actually imagine what that experience would be like. By embodying the feeling of the award placed in your hands, all eyes, lights, cameras, smiles, and the energy of the room invading your being, you are operating in the realm of possibility and beginning to set in motion the law of attraction in your life. It links an emotion to your vision. Once you do this you’re more able to achieve your goals and ask: “Why not me?!”
2. Anchors you to your “Big Why”
The process of giving this speech has you critically reflect on your underlying motivation for doing the work you do. Legendary actor Keith David from Greenleaf accepted an award at the Miami Film Festival and said in response to why he acts…. “You do it because your soul needs it.” You follow your passion because your soul craves it and longs for it. Following your bliss is what brings you a feeling of being alive. This activity really begs the poignant question: “why do we act?” or “Why do we follow certain callings?”
3. Have you reflect on the people and experiences that have contributed to your success
By doing this, you will recognize that no great achievement is ever accomplished alone. It takes a village. It pushes you to visualize your village. Perhaps it can push you to thank the people who have contributed to your development NOW instead of waiting until you get to the metaphorical Oscar. It has you practice the art of gratitude and humility in arriving at your destination.
4. Your Power as a Platform for serving others
What was interesting is how people wanted to give back and address important societal challenges while giving their speeches... As if, now that they had arrived, they wanted to bring down the elevator and help uplift and inspire others by letting them know that if they could make it to the Academy Awards, that they could too. It’s inspiring to think about. How can we serve even before we “make it”?
5. You realize why your peers are in this work and the adversity they have faced in the process.
I sat in class listening to my classmates go up and one after another I saw a myriad of emotions flow through them. I got to witness their genuine motivations -- whether a love of the arts, a platform for speaking to people…..for some people it was more a feeling of an underdog and wanting to say “I did this. I told you so.”
Whatever the reason - people have
Who they give credit to for their success
6. Face Your Fears
If your fear is greatness, then this exercise is perfect because it opens up a realm of introspection. If you feel uncomfortable doing this, it’s important to ask yourself: “Why?” If you can do this kind of exercise in the environment of the class, you can do it anywhere. By meeting the resistance or challenging yourself to face the seemingly insurmountable goal of getting an Oscar -- you allow yourself to mentally, spiritually, almost physiologically imagine that you too could get an Oscar. Your fear will begin to dissipate. It will feel much closer in reach.
I want to dedicate this to my theatre professors from Vanderbilt University Theatre, to my fearless acting coach, Michael Jacques, to my amazing parents, Francina and Luis, my wonderful friends and family, and last but most certainly not least - to my God. This is the greatest moment of my life.