1. Don't underestimate the power of a good influencer and a good message
When Frances McDormand used her Oscars speech as a rallying cry for women in the movie industry, she had one very important ally: Meryl Streep. McDormand asked her fellow female nominees in every category to stand up, she said: ‘Meryl, if you do it, everyone will follow.’ They did.
Of course it helped that McDormand had a message with flames to which Streep could add her fuel. Gesturing to the many women standing, she announced: ‘Look around ladies and gentlemen, we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed.’
The timing was right (women’s rights have never been more scrutinised in Hollywood than they are now), the message was right and the star power behind it made McDormand’s speech the most iconic of the night.
2. Be daring but be authentic
‘Social thriller’ movie Get Out was arguably the most daring film nominated for Best Picture and it almost wouldn’t have been made, if director and writer Jordan Peele hadn’t had faith in his vision. ‘I thought it wasn't going to work,’ he said in his speech as he won Best Original Screenplay. ‘...But I kept coming back to it because I knew if someone let me make this movie, that people would hear it and people would see it.’
Get Out was also the most talked about film in the UK on Oscars night so Peele’s hard work paid off. Similarly, his admission in his speech, coupled with his subsequent tweet - I just won an Oscar. WTF?!?!? - made him the most talked about man on Twitter. His authenticity resonated with his audience. Isn’t that what we are all trying to achieve ?
3. Diversity and inclusion aren't buzzwords
Former Hollyoaks actress Rachel Shenton’s Oscars speech went viral, after she signed it for her six-year-old leading actress who is deaf. The short film she won for, about a young deaf girl ‘born into a world of silence’, and her speech were stark reminders that millions of people face communication barriers and obstacles to education. As an industry where communication is literally in the job description, we need to think about different ways of communicating so that an audience is never left behind.
4. Don’t be afraid of legislation
McDormand used the last seconds of her speech to talk about an ‘inclusion rider’, a clause in a movie contract specified by an actor that requires cast and crew meet a certain level of diversity. She seized her opportunity to lobby for change. Don’t forget to give others who are less privileged a leg up when they need it.
5. Double-check everything
You can hardly mention last year’s Oscars without talking about the envelope cock-up when La La Land was mistakenly handed Best Picture instead of actual winner Moonlight.
This year the Academy made certain there was no repetition. Those in charge of the envelopes were banned from tweeting during the ceremony, but that didn’t stop director Guillermo Del Toro (jokingly) making sure the card actually had the right name on it.
We all make mistakes. But where possible, it’s always best to double-check to avoid them.