I was re-watching Lupita Nyong’o, Academy Award acceptance speech, again appreciating the emotional core of her remarks ...
"It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s.”
Now, Nyong’o was referring to the fact that her role in “12 Years A Slave” (which I haven’t seen yet), was based on a real-life woman who was, in fact, a slave. If I understand her meaning, she was acknowledging the fact that her good fortune is based on the reality of a very difficult life.
While I in no way would compare the life of a slave to living with a disability … a mistake that I’m afraid a lot of people might make if the thought were suggested … it did cause me to wonder what Daniel Day-Lewis said in his acceptance speech when he won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of the real-life man Christy Brown in “My Left Foot". So, I looked it up. Here is the video, and a transcript of his speech:
1989 Academy Awards
"You've just provided me with the makings of one hell of a weekend in Dublin."
"I shared Christy's life for a while with a remarkable young actor called Hugh O'Conor. But for everyone involved in the film, all our desire to make the film, all the strength that we needed, all the pleasure that we took in making the film came from Christy Brown. When he was alive he needed very little encouragement to make his voice heard. Now he needs a little more. And I'm truly grateful to you that in honoring me with this award you're encouraging Christy to carry on making his mark. Thank you very much indeed.”
It is a very gracious and succinct speech. He didn’t say anything offensive or condescending. He spoke about giving new voice to a man who when he was alive, struggled in particular to be heard and understood. That suggests D-Day "got it", that he drew good conclusions from his experience “with” Christy Brown. Day-Lewis’ speech doesn’t have quite the empowering ring that Nyong’o’s had, but I think that in a speech about a disabled person, by a non-disabled person, it’s probably best to keep it simple and not try to draw too many dubious connections.
I wonder what Tom Cruise would have said if he had won Best Actor instead, for portraying another real-life disabled person, Ron Kovic, in “Born On The Fourth Of July”?
Also, unrelated bonus for seeing other familiar faces how they looked in early 1990: Jodie Foster, Robin Williams (with a regrettable ‘stache), and Jessica Lange.