There may never be a Golden Globes acceptance speech as glorious as the one Oprah Winfrey gave last night. Maybe, if you’re young enough. For those of us of a certain age, this may have been our Golden Globes lifetime speech highlight, to go along with her Cecil B DeMille lifetime achievement award.
Last April, I linked to an essay Bim Adewunmi called How Oprah Got Her Acting Groove Back. In her piece, Bin writes about how Oprah actually filmed The Colour Purple before The Oprah Winfrey Show went national in America – and then universal around the world. Which means she earned her Best Supporting Actress nomination before everyone in the world knew her for being the ultimate talk show host. It’s easy to forget that though because the Oprah show was such a monumental, transformational achievement. But, as Bim argued, there’s a connection between Oprah the actor and Oprah the afternoon lifestyle guru/ best friend/ book club president/ global mentor and it’s that Oprah hosts and acts from a place of empathy, which is what makes her effective at both.
If you’ve been reading this site a while (we’ve been around 15 years now!), you know that I’m not an Oprah disciple. Saying this out loud is dangerous and I will likely suffer for it karmically but my point is that being moved by Oprah is not a familiar place for me. I’m not usually affected but she affected me last night so much because that was such a complete showcase of the WORK of Oprah Winfrey. And the work of Oprah Winfrey always culminates in the perfect delivery.
How many times during these shows do these professional actors f-ck up their lines? And fumble the entire way through their speeches? A lifetime achievement award speech is easily triple the amount of time of a non-lifetime achievement award speech. Oprah was up there for a LOOOOOONG time. There wasn’t one um, or ah, or uh, or oof. Every comma was properly delivered. Every word that needed to be emphasised was perfectly emphasised. The pacing was specific and flawless. Her voice fell when most effective, rose when most dramatic. Oprah had something to say. And Oprah knows better than anyone else that when you have something to say, it also matters how you say it.
Right. Because she hosted her own talk show for 25 years. So it’s easy for her. Is it though? Does it mean she doesn’t have to write the speech and then practise it? You don’t get up there and not bobble not even one f-cking time and not practise. That’s your billionaire, standing in front of her bathroom mirror, practising that speech until it was perfect. But, wait, now you’re going to say it was on the teleprompter. You can read off a teleprompter but that doesn’t mean the audience is going to feel your words. In fact, it takes work to read off a teleprompter and not sound like a machine, a cheesy robot with a “TV voice”. I would know, because I’m the machine, cheesy robot every day on TV. That’s why so many of TV’s best moments are when people go off-script, throw out the teleprompter and speak on instinct. This is what Oprah did at the Golden Globes.
Only instead of speaking about herself, while accepting her lifetime achievement award, she talked not at all about herself, she talked instead about everything else. She talked about Sidney Poitier. She talked about her inspirations. She talked about victims of racial and gender inequality. She talked about Recy Taylor. And how many of us started reading immediately about Recy Taylor?
Remember her name.— Soraya Nadia McDonald (@SorayaMcDonald) January 8, 2018
Say her name.
Recy Taylor. https://t.co/hvSwtueTe7
That piece of Recy Taylor was written by Soraya McDonald for The Undefeated back in December. Today there are a lot more people valuing Soraya’s work – because Oprah told them to. By telling a great story.
Oprah is a master storyteller, which is the job of everyone in that room last night. They are ALL storytellers. They’re all elite storytellers. And she took them to school.
This concludes our coverage today of the Golden Globes. THANK YOU for reading our posts for your emails and your tweets and for your observations and also for getting mad at us when you disagree! We’ll be back tomorrow on a regular schedule.
For those of you who are wondering whether or not we may have missed a post, about a certain jackass in particular – no, not missed at all and totally intentional. He can f-cking wait until tomorrow. Nobody is sitting on top of Oprah today. Especially not him.