https://www.bonnielowkramen.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Olympia-with-Oscar.jpg 536 409 Bonnie Low-Kramen /wp-content/uploads/2020/08/bonnie-low-logo.png Bonnie Low-Kramen2024-02-07 11:27:002024-02-07 11:43:25What’s the Big Deal About Acceptance Speeches Anyway? Bonnie’s Story
By Bonnie Low-Kramen | February 2024
Seconds after the speech, my text messages blew up. One friend simply wrote, “Are you dying?” Here’s why.
“The Bear” actress Ayo Edebiri won her Best Actress Golden Globe Award on Sunday, January 7 and her acceptance speech still has the world buzzing with appreciation. As acceptance speeches go, it is one that will be remembered, especially if you work as an assistant – to anyone. Here’s what she said as part of her remarks.
“There’s so many people who I probably forgot to thank and—oh my God, all of my agents and managers’ assistants. The people who answer my emails. Y’all are real ones. Thank you for answering my crazy, crazy emails. Yeah, I’m really, really grateful.”
I know something about acceptance speeches. I worked in show business for 25 years as the Personal Assistant to Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis. When Olympia won her Oscar for “Moonstruck” on April 11, 1988, I was watching from my living room in New Jersey with my newborn son Adam in my arms. Had the timing been different, I would have been sitting in that audience in Los Angeles. I have vivid memories of that night – including being grateful that the Best Supporting Actress Award was the very first one given. With a proud and happy smile on my face, Adam and I went to sleep immediately following it.
Here was Olympia’s acceptance speech, which most people remember for her famous final line, “OK Michael, let’s go!” in support of her first cousin Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. What I remember most though, is what she said right before that when she thanked “all my colleagues at the Whole Theatre.” I was one of those colleagues and I knew that I was one of the people she was thinking of in that moment. 100% certain.
Along with lots of other hard-working, not famous people, I played a role in Olympia being on that stage through the dozens of TV, radio, newspaper, and magazine interviews I coordinated, cars I reserved, hair and makeup people I scheduled, the photo shoots I organized, the meals I arranged, problems I solved, people I convinced, favors I called in, the doctors’ appointments, the workout sessions, the wardrobe fittings, the flights, the hotels, the meetings, and more. “I like your earrings better than mine with this outfit. Quick. Can I borrow them for this interview?”
I loved all of the work, despite the long hours. And it mattered a lot that Olympia acknowledged it. As the leader and a manager, Olympia knew what the best leaders, entrepreneurs, and business owners know. Your success rides on the work of others. Your company is only as good as the people you employ.
Why the speech caused such a buzz
I can tell you that everyone in that room at the Golden Globe Awards was sitting there as a result of the hard work of a small army of people, all of whom deserve thanks. I can also tell you that talent agents’ assistants are a special breed. Cary Berman at the William Morris Agency was one of them and he is a dear friend 37 years later. We still talk about that insane time.
In my career, I have had the opportunity to know plenty of famous people. None of them got to where they are alone. None.
So I admit that’s what irks me. When I listen to acceptance speeches and for that matter, read interviews or listen to podcasts with famous people, I notice when they make it sound like they achieved success all on their own, alone. When I see this, it never fails to cause me to lose a bit of respect and think of them as arrogant and out of touch. The same is true in the corporate world. I find myself wondering, don’t they remember when they were first starting out and did not have power? Can’t they remember how it felt to work incredibly hard and not be thanked?
1988 was year number three for Olympia and me. We worked together for twenty-two more years. That speech was not the only reason I stayed, but it mattered. It mattered to a lot of us. We never forgot it.
What we can all learn from Ayo’s speech
1. No matter who you are or what position you hold, being publicly acknowledged in an authentic way is a big deal.
InStyle Magazine put it this way, “Hard-working people everywhere — whether they are or ever have been someone’s assistant or not — were nodding and clapping and hell-yessing in agreement. Edebiri made the humble hoi polloi feel seen. You know why burnout culture and quiet quitting exist? Because too many people work too hard without acknowledgment or appreciation. Here was a funny, beautiful, and successful person saying: I know you hustle, and I am grateful.”
2. Take a look around when you give credit where credit is due
Ayo’s speech is worth noting in part because of what happened in the audience. It was spontaneous and real to see the happy and not a little shocked reaction of the people in the audience, including Taylor Swift, who were nodding in total agreement as if to say, “Yes, it is absolutely true. I feel that way about my agents’ assistants too!”
3. Thank the Assistants who run your businesses and your life
One of the reasons this speech has caused such a stir is because this kind of acknowledgment of Assistants happens so rarely. These people are not rich or famous and what they crave is feedback. (Famous people get that all the time.) The Assistants of the world are deserving of the praise so, whether you are their manager or their colleague, I urge you to give them their due.
Today is a great day to say thank you to the people who organize your life and keep the wheels turning smoothly at your company. Be sure to pay them a proper salary and assign a job title that respectfully reflect their level of responsibility. Who knows? They may just stay for 25 years. Ayo will never have to worry ever again about getting her emails answered and she didn’t even know that when the words came out her mouth. That may be the best part of all.
I am Bonnie Low-Kramen, TEDx speaker, author of Be the Ultimate Assistant and trainer of Executive Assistants all over the world. As part of my work to build ultimate business partnerships, I was published in Harvard Business Review and featured in a Forbes online cover story. In the research for my second book about the workplace Staff Matters, People Focused Solutions for the Ultimate New Workplace, I have had over 1,500 conversations with assistants, leaders, HR professionals, recruiters, and business school professors in 13 countries and 38 states. I am excited to work with you towards building your ultimate workplace. Click here to set up a time to speak with me about your training needs which can be delivered virtually or in person.