Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Steel Gardenias

How many viewers recognized the gardenia in Best Supporting Actress Mo'Nique's hair as an homage to Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American to win an Academy Award?

Mo'Nique's acceptance speech was short, simple, and powerful. "I want to thank Miss Hattie McDaniel for enduring all that she had to, so that I would not have to," she said.

Endure she did. According to Salon, "Hattie McDaniel was barred from attending the "Gone With the Wind" premiere in Atlanta, because it would have been against Georgia law for her to sit in a theater with white people. She was not only the first African-American to win an Academy Award but the first to be allowed into the ceremony in anything but a serving capacity -- they stuck her at a table in the back. Although she was a talented singer and comedian, she won Hollywood's grudging respect by playing a maid named Mammy. And during her tearful acceptance speech (below), she said bluntly, "I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race." It was 1940. Here's the video:

Any wonder that Mo'Nique wanted to reference that moment? She's currently at work on a film about McDaniel, by the way. Honoring who came before her: nicely done.

Also bringing more to the Oscar table than meets the eye is Best Actress Sandra Bullock. Her acceptance speech was gracious, funny, warm, tender, real... all the reasons she's been labeled America's Sweetheart for so long. But as her tribute to her mother and her understated nod to her husband revealed, there's much more there than meets the eye.

Rewind the tape to the night before the Oscars, where America's Sweetheart Turned Best Actress recieved an award of a differnet kind - a Worst Actress Razzie for the deplorable "All About Steve." Not only did Sandy B show up to accept the award, she owned the moment. This is how you turn lemons into lemonade with a smile:

Grace under pressure in two very different ways, from the leading ladies of the night. Women to learn from, these two. Congratulations.


  1. I did not know the significance of the gardenia in Monique's hair. What a beautiful story!

  2. Monique is so hard core. I loved her explanation in the question answer session. She is a comedian, but she is also a really serious deep person.

  3. I have to say that after watching Sandra's speech at the Razzie awards I have been converted to "fan" status. And I love the way that Mo'Nique honored Hattie. It was a beautiful tribute to a woman who so long ago paved the way for us all. Great post!

  4. I loved seeing how she handled the Razzie award! How did you upload it onto a blog post? I have been trying to figure it out for a while now, and just can't figure it out! Any help would be appreciated!

  5. Wonderful post. I didn't know Hattie McDaniel's story until now. Shame on me!

  6. She is so funny and such a great sport that makes me happy she won the oscar!


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