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What Olivia Colman can teach us

2 min read

She shouted at her kids, blew a raspberry when she was told to wrap it up, tearfully thanked her husband, and referred to the time when she was working as a cleaner and dreamt about moments like this one. At the end, she simply blurted, “Lady Gaga!”. Olivia Colman, who finally won her first Oscar at the age of 45, as Best Actress for her role of Queen Anne in The Favourite, gave a very unconventional and heartwarming acceptance speech that night in Los Angeles, turning into the queen of everyone’s hearts.

It was far from the usual speeches you expect from such a gala and even further from the fundamental rules of public speaking: without a real structure, plenty of pauses and hesitations. In fact, telling a good story requires following an ideal timeline with a beginning, a middle and an end in order to grab and hold the audience throughout.

So how did her speech win the favour of several people? It was scattered, funny, heartfelt, emotional but most of all authentic. Basically, she was very different from the typical Hollywood stars. She didn’t follow any script or any protocol, she was simply herself. She used her great sense of humour to her advantage, even if she was stressed and emotional.

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Olivia Colman began her speech for best actress by simply saying the experience of winning was “genuinely quite stressful”, adding: “this is hilarious – I’ve got an Oscar!”. Admitting her weaknesses and embarrassment made the audience immediately sympathise with her. She also ended her speech by reinforcing our need to believe a dream can come true: “any little girl who’s practising their speech on the telly, you never know – she said-. I used to work as a cleaner and I loved that job but I did spend quite a lot of time imagining”. Vision, resilience, passion. These three winning attributes earned her an Oscar. But most of all, her uniqueness.

What makes you special? Find it. Usually, those with the best talent have their own personal way to emerge and rise to the top. Being different in a world that wants us to be all conventional is the key.

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