The acceptance speeches are often the highlight of any televised award ceremony. After a name is called, the winner has just a short amount of time to thank everyone they want to thank, and, potentially, to say something impactful. Adrenaline is often running high, and the outcome can be emotional, inspiring, funny, and more often than not, a little bit awkward.
Ever since the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929 (which was held at a private banquet and was not broadcast), speeches have been a major part of the evening. Many actors have used the time to make statements about politics or current issues, while others have gone off the cuff and simply reveled in the moment. Some have kept it short and sweet, such as Patty Duke’s two-word “Thank you” in 1963 when, looking overwhelmed, she accepted the Best Supporting Actress trophy for The Miracle Worker. Others, however, have ignored the timed speech slot: In 1943, actress Greer Garson set a world record for the longest Oscars speech when she accepted her Best Actress award for Mrs. Miniver and spoke for almost six minutes.
From the Oscars to the Golden Globes to the Emmys and more, here are some quick quips and heartfelt outpourings that make for some of the most unforgettable moments in award show history.
I want any kid who is watching to know that your biggest obstacle may turn into your purpose.Ari’el Stachel accepting the Tony Award for Featured Actor in a Musical for “The Band’s Visit,” 2018
If you have a dream, fight for it. It's not about how many times you get rejected or thought you’ve fallen down or you're beaten up. It's about how many times you stand up and are brave and you keep on going.Lady Gaga accepting the Oscar for Best Original Song for “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born,” 2019
This moment is so much bigger than me… It's for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened. Thank you.Halle Berry accepting the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for “Monster’s Ball,” 2001
Never once in my life did my parents ever say, “What you're doing is a waste of time.” Never. I know there are kids out there that don't have that support system, so if you're out there and you're listening, listen to me: If you want to be creative, get out there and do it; it's not a waste of time. Do it.Michael Giacchino accepting the Oscar for Best Original Score for “Up,” 2010
Why don't you sit, 'cause I may never be here again.Julia Roberts accepting the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for “Erin Brockovich,” 2001
Thanks so much. Thank you so much. Um, I've got to go. Bye.Merritt Wever accepting the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for “Nurse Jackie,” 2013
My LGBTQIA family. I see each and every one of you. The things that make us different, those are our superpowers… The world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren’t in it.Lena Waithe accepting the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for “Master of None,” 2017
This show is proof that history remembers. We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger. We rise and fall and light from dying embers. Remembrances that hope and love live longer. And love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.Lin-Manuel Miranda accepting the Tony Award for Best Original Score for “Hamilton,” 2016
It’s important to me to show images to my children that reflect their beauty so they can grow up in a world where they look in the mirror… and see themselves, and have no doubt that they’re beautiful, intelligent, and capable.Beyoncé accepting the Grammy for Best Urban Contemporary Album for “Lemonade,” 2017
I don’t know whether to be happy or ashamed because I thought we made a comedy.Jack Nicholson accepting the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama, for “About Schmidt,” 2003
I want all the girls watching here and now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say “Me too” again.Oprah Winfrey receiving the Cecil B. deMille Award at the Golden Globes, 2018
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