Like most little kids who dream of being in films someday, I watched the Academy Awards each year and for two (or three or four) hours I would be glued to the tv, cheering my favorites, groaning when they didn't win. I have made a hundred acceptance speeches, always funny, witty, touching, tearful, full of pathos and hitting all the right notes and thanking all the right people. I have hoped and dreamed of that little golden statue since I was old enough to stay up late enough to watch the broadcast.
Last year was the first time I missed a broadcast, and also the first time I lived in proximity to one. Lacking a television, I sat at home and received texts from my sister on the winners throughout the night. I still made my silent acceptance speech; I still thanked all the right people. This year will be the same, no doubt; I will be home in bed, reading, getting the occasional text from my sister as she watches. I will still dream. But, the dreams are mired in reality now.
At some point all dreamers have to grow up and accept the truths of the world around them: I will never be thin enough, or young enough, or beautiful enough to walk the red carpet. If I had a chance to be an actress, it passed ten years ago while I was wasting time in Chicago, too afraid to take a shot. A trip to the Oscars, with flash bulbs popping all around and your stomach jumping as you wonder whether your name will be called . . . that will stay a daydream. My acceptance speeches will be made in my head, or to the mirror in my bathroom. If I am very, very lucky, one day I will figure out a way to start costuming for the industry I love so well and perhaps someday watch a film I worked on win an award. That will have to be enough.
This post has become depressingly maudlin, but as this season approaches it reminds me of how close I am now to everything I've ever wanted, and how very far away. When I was in my early twentes I worked for several months at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago; if you're not familiar, Steppenwolf is an extremely good theatre founded by some of my favorite actors, and a dream for every actor in the city. I was in the telefundraising department. I can't express how bittersweet it felt to walk up to that facade each day and enter that theatre . . . only to head upstairs to the phones. I auditioned and applied for internships, but was never chosen. I got to see a few superlative shows for free while I worked there, but that was about it.
I am certainly not unique; there are thousands of other actors out there like me, who dream of success and never come close to that red carpet. Many no doubt have much sadder stories, and have worked much harder than I. But, I can only speak for myself, and what I feel when I look at the rows of golden statues, so close now. And so impossibly unattainable.