My Friend Oscar

By Jacquie Roland

It may be too late for me to ever be seated up front in the Academy Awards audience and hear those magical words, ” And the Oscar goes to (insert my name here!).” But you never know. I gave my first Oscar speech when oscar08I was about seven, maybe eight. I figured that one day I’d be called on to thank a long list of people and wanted to be ready. So I rehearsed in front of my mirror again and again. It was important for me to get it right—you see, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up… not a fireman or a policeman or a mommy. When asked, I always said the same thing… “I want to be a ‘walt disney’.” I wanted to be a walt disney and win Oscars, which I thought were made of real gold, nifty little presents they gave you for being a really good walt disney and drawing entertaining movies. People must have found me amusing. I drew my movies on whatever scrap of paper that was available—shirt cardboard was a favorite—then passed the pictures around for the neighbors to see. I even drew my own Oscar once, coloring it with a stubby yellow crayon from the small flat box, (which didn’t include gold), and taped it to my mirror for encouragement as I rehearsed. What I was dreaming of, in those color-deprived days, was becoming an illustrator—although back then I didn’t know what one was.

Later, in real life, the illustrator part of my imaginary movie came true. I didn’t make it to Hollywood, but did work in the graphics field in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and now—as a painter/sculptor—in upstate New York. As I grew older, the Oscar ceremony just became something I watched with everyone else once a year. (Were there really times when, in my childish excitement, I bumped my nose trying to get closer to those gleaming metal statuettes and left tiny grease spots on the TV screen?) Some things are best forgotten… but other things, like the Hollywood dream itself, stayed with me—locked away—and there it rested quietly until not very long ago.

Dramatic Flashback: Two years ago I sold a painting (not that unusual)… soon after that I had an accident (very unusual). After the accident I was confined to a rehab facility for several months. When you are in one of those places, you become very aware of your own mortality—and your limitations. But I’m a determined little creature. I couldn’t paint, so I started to write. This past summer I wrote my first play, which I entered in a competition in Baltimore. The play “(She Loved Me?) She Loved Me Not,” was produced in November 2008 and, after all this time, an actress walked across a real stage saying words I had written. Meanwhile (as I waited for the play to be produced), I came close to winning an Oscar. Really—well, kind of. One of my paintings (remember the one I sold before the accident?) appeared in the Uma Thurman movie “The Life Before Her Eyes.” The film was released in April 2008 by 2929 Productions. I finally got to see it on DVD, and my small painting appears twice in the film—at 30:05 & 38:41. The director, Vadim Perelman (be still my heart), even mentioned it in his commentary. The painting is of a little girl’s face, its title “Victorian Dreams.” The movie was beautiful, lush even… and artistic… the subject matter was stirring, and with so many Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning names attached to the project, I thought that it was a shoo-in for at LEAST a nomination. I figured that if I couldn’t get a nomination myself, the next best thing would be to be involved—no matter how minutely—in a film that did. I could barely contain myself. Oh, the bragging rights! But, sadly, it wasn’t to be. *Sigh*

The 81st annual Oscars will be broadcast February 22—again, of course, without me. This year Hugh Jackman will do the MC bit. We will not air kiss. I will not be interviewed on Oprah, or by Barbara Walters. Earlier, on the famous red carpet, Joan Rivers will not have asked me inane questions. After someone else is handed “my” Oscar and—watched by millions, maybe billions—I will not have to smile wanly into the camera and say (a tear in my eye), “it was an honor just to have been nominated.”

Sure, I’ll be watching… and I just may get out the glitter and make my own Oscar, as I did many years ago. That little yellow fellow got me through a lot as a child, and he is still a shiny beacon for my darkest days. (Let’s face it, we may ALL need a little bit of economic glitter to get through the next few years.) But for a few hours this Sunday evening, we can forget our troubles and watch the fancy folks, dressed in their tuxes and fabulous gowns and borrowed jewelry, gliding across the wine colored carpet on television. I have to smile… because like the little girl I was many years ago, some of those folks must have dreamed of winning the Oscar when they were eight years old, too. There really isn’t that much difference between us, you know… they just got closer to the stage than I did. Oh, and just for the record—in his lifetime Walt Disney won 26 Oscars. Me: 0. (At least so far.)

Copyright © 2009 Jacquie Roland.

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7 Responses to My Friend Oscar

  1. DoctorGamgee says:

    I am sure your play was wonderful. If this is how well you write, perhaps you need to do more of them and Oscar can be replaced with Tony?

    Dr.G

  2. Jacquie Roland says:

    Thank you very much, Dr. G After all these years of unrequited love… it would serve the little rascal right. (She rushes off to apply more makeup… for new love (Tony) awaits, perhaps, in the wings…Remembers to powder nose carefully…Oscar was perhaps turned off by those unfortunate grease spots.)

  3. Jacquie Roland says:

    I just LOVED the Oscars this year. Hugh Jackman and the NEW Oscars were perfect. But it was Kate Winlet’s speech that made my night. Today I’ve received calls and e-mails from friends who read my Oscar piece posted here last Wednesday, February 18, and noticed certain similarities. In her joyous acceptance of the Best Actress award for THE READER, Ms. Winslet said some things which made me laugh out loud. Her memories of herself as an “eight year old girl”—not nine, ten, or twelve—but EIGHT, rehearsing her Oscar speech in her mirror, could have been pulled from my essay. When I wrote that “SOME of the folks must have dreamed of winning the Oscar when they were eight years old, too” … I of course had no idea that ONE of those folks would be the lovely, vocal, Ms. Winslet. I also wrote that I’d “have to smile when someone else was given ‘my Oscar’ “… well, I did that in spades. For me, this is the perfect ending to my post… and who knew that it would be written for me by Kate Winslet! (You just can’t make this stuff up.) Thank you so much, Kate, and Congratulations, for getting not just close—but TO the stage.

  4. Jim says:

    Ditto on all counts, Jacquie. Saw the whole thing myself. (I never go to bed before twelve, like to watch Charlie Rose most evenings.) As Winslet gave her speech I was thinking that, except for the shampoo bit, “She’s stolen Jacquie’s idea!” I got a big kick out of it, too. And you’re right, the show this year was great. I really liked Jackson as host. Also, the sets were wonderful and the program really slid by and was finished right at midnight—bedtime perfect.

  5. shirley says:

    This year I watched the Oscars in real time in San Fransisco, California with about 5 men (where it is a very big deal, the focus is like a play-off Ravens game in Baltimore). Instead of having just one eye open, as I have had over the decades in Baltimore, sliding into serious sleep before ten, there the sun was still shining as the guys were dishing the star girls on the red carpet. To a man they hissed at Angelina and raved over Kate. We had a hat filled with ten dollar bills for the one who picked the most winners beforehand. A young man from Brazil won it. Did I mention the shots of tequila to get started?

  6. I’m having a little bit of trouble viewing your site in Internet Explorer, but it may just be my computer. Apart from that, I love your site. I plan on surfing around and reading some more posts!

  7. Jim says:

    Sorry Internet Explorer isn’t doing it for you. Have you tried Firefox?

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