The Oscars are just around the corner, and one of the highlights — besides watching Leonardo DiCaprio hopefully take home his first golden statue — will be the good, the bad and the ugly acceptance speeches.
To commemorate Hollywood’s biggest night, we took a walk down memory lane and rounded up the most inspiring acceptance speeches from the Oscar Awards in recent years. We gleaned some pretty valuable leadership lessons along the way — and these seven pieces of advice topped the list:
1. Don’t be afraid to speak out against inequality.
To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights, it’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” — Patricia Arquette, Best Supporting Actress, 2015
2. Find and bring out the best in everyone — especially those who are “different.”
When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong. And now I’m standing here, so I would like this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. I promise you do. You do. Stay weird. Stay different.” — Graham Moore, Best Adapted Screenplay, 2015
3. Use your platform to stand up for others.
This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It’s for the women that stand beside me, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox. And it’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.” — Halle Berry, Actress in a Leading Role, 2002
4. Give credit where credit is due — acknowledge those who have helped you along the way.
In 1971, Bossier City, Louisiana, there was a teenage girl who was pregnant with her second child. She was a high school dropout and a single mom, but somehow she managed to make a better life for herself and her children. She encouraged her kids to be creative, to work hard and to do something special. That girl is my mother and she’s here tonight. And I just want to say, I love you, Mom. Thank you for teaching me to dream.” — Jared Leto, Best Supporting Actor, 2014
5. Stand up and speak up for what you believe in.
We know that right now the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850. When people are marching with our song, we want to tell you that we are with you, we see you, we love you, and march on.” — John Legend, Best Original Song, 2015
6. Teach others to never stop dreaming — and dream big.
When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.” — Lupita Nyong’o, Best Supporting Actress, 2014
7. People thrive on recognition and respect — make it a part of your process.
I haven’t had an orthodox career and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it. And I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me!” – Sally Field, Actress in a Leading Role, 1985