“Be so good, you can’t be ignored”- Ololade Ajekigbe
22 years after receiving his first ever award nomination in an acting category, and 12 years after his first nomination for Best Actor by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,(AMPAS), American actor and producer, Leonardo DiCaprio finally won his first Academy award at the 88th edition of the Oscars which held on Sunday. To say it was a historic moment would be stating the obvious. I have waited in heightened anticipation to write this article since I learned that DiCaprio had been nominated yet again by the Academy for Best Actor in a leading role for the eighteenth century enduring film, The Revenant. Like millions of his other fans, I was optimistic that this time around, he would clinch the award which has eluded him for over two decades!
Unarguably one of Hollywood’s finest actors, his perennial losing streak has been nothing short of a mystery despite churning out stellar performances film after film. A school of thought even opined that the charming actor was not destined to win an Academy award, especially as some of his contemporaries (and even newcomers) who haven’t put in anything close to the body of work that the actor who shot into international fame with his role in the 1997 epic romance, Titanic can boast of practically waltz onto the stage to pick up an award each year. Indeed for anyone who has keenly followed the actor’s career through the years, it is difficult to wrap the head around how such a superstar has been shunned by the Academy for so long.
Others may argue that Leonardo isn’t the only great actor who hasn’t won an Oscar prior to this time. A-list American actor and film maker, Tom Cruise is also yet to win in any category of the most prestigious awards in Hollywood. So also, great actors like Johnny Depp, Harrison Ford and Robert Downey Jnr. However, the difference between DiCaprio and the others is the not just the frequency of the times he has been nominated, but also the diversity of the roles he has played. Prior to his win on Sunday, he had been nominated four times in an acting category, the last time being a nomination for Best Actor in the 2014 biographical comedy, The Wolf of Wall Street. The last time Tom cruise was nominated for an Academy award was way back in 2000. It is therefore correct to declare Leonardo the most consistent of them all.
In researching the climate change champion I learned a lot of things which I intend to apply in my personal life. First of all, he never allowed the disappointment of not winning time and time again affect the quality of his work. In fact, he simply got better with each passing movie; a quality that confirms that he was never into the art for the applause in the first place. The average person would have thrown up their arms, become bitter and possibly called it quits after losing out a record five times! But not DiCaprio. From epic historical dramas to psychological thrillers, to science fiction movies and crime dramas, the Hollywood, California born actor continued to wow audiences around world, proving over and over again that he is the cream of the crop where acting is concerned. Yet, for all the critical acclaim and commercial success his films have garnered over the years, it seemed he would never be deemed good enough to be sufficiently recognized by the Academy. But all that changed on Sunday night.
I watched the clips of the previous times the environmental enthusiast lost out to his colleagues in the categories he in which he was nominated, and what struck me was his graciousness in defeat. On each occasion, he looked genuinely pleased to see others take home the statuette he must have longed to hold too. He applauded the winners and not once did he ever complain about being marginalized or cheated out of winning. Neither did he ever threaten to boycott the awards ceremony like some black actors chose to do because they were not nominated on one occasion.
I am sure he must have had some personal battles within himself. He must have doubted how good he really is. Some of the memes and subtle jibes about his consistent loss must have gotten to him at some point, but Leonardo always kept his head up. He always always carried himself with dignity regardless of how he must have felt inside. Even when a section of movie lovers and fans protested his seeming snub by the Academy, this alpha movie star never said or did anything to suggest that he was upset. On the contrary, he continued to put in more admirable work both on and off the screen. Now, this attribute of his in particular completely blows my mind.
Dicaprio’s victory feels like a personal one for me. It resonates deep within my core and gives me hope. It reminds me of how I feel when it appears as if all my hard work is amounting to nothing. It is a story that proves one more time that hard work always pays off in the end. It attests to the fact that if you are very good at what you do, eventually people will have no choice but to reckon with you. There will come a time when you absolutely cannot be ignored anymore. All the forces in the cosmos will align to lay your due at your feet. It may take a little while, it may take a few years, heck, it may even take decades like it did in Leonardo’s case, but when it is time, it is time, and no force will be able stop it.
For some of us, it may not even be about a stagnant or frustrating career. It may be a seemingly endless wait to have a child, it may be an unfortunate string of bad relationships that has left you jaded about love. You may remain the only unmarried one in a group of ten friends. It may be increasing despair about being constantly broke despite the hard work and drudgery you put yourself through. It could be a variety of issues which have conspired to make you pessimistic about the future. Leonardo’s latter glory represents hope that there is light at the end of even the longest of tunnels. The later the breakthrough, the sweeter the victory. Which is why the entertainment world literally stood still when he won. Social media was agog, and I am still over the moon about this thoroughly deserved victory of his.
I don’t know about you but I am inspired more than ever to keep giving my best in all I do. It really doesn’t matter if I am recognized for it or not. I will give my best in my relationships, career and life in general. And one day…one day…the glory will come.
And when it does come, it will eclipse all the years of sadness and frustration in a flash.
Delay is certainly not denial.