Recall when it was announced over the summer that media mogul Oprah Winfrey would be given an honorary Oscar (the prestigious Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award) for her humanitarian contributions, many balked at the notion, and criticized both the Academy and Oprah Winfrey, arguing that she didn’t meet the guidelines set by the Academy for recipients of this particular award.
The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award is given to “an individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry,” says the Academy’s website. Previous recipients of the award include the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Quincy Jones, Jerry Lewis and Paul Newman, and many apparently didn’t feel that Oprah belonged in that company, because she’s more of a TV personality than a motion picture actress/director/writer/producer/etc.
My reaction to the whole thing? *Shrug* Congrats Oprah on the award… I’ll just return to living my life now.
But maybe those of you who were opposed to her being honored with the award might get some comfort out of knowing that Oprah herself now says that she actually understands your POV. Yes she does, as she herself was shocked when she was notified that the Academy would honor her with the Oscar (alongside James Earl Jones and makeup artist Dick Smith this year).
“I understood it because I was equally surprised… I was surprised because I am not known as an actress… I understand people thinking, `Where’s her list of credentials for films’,” she said.
While she does have a few credits, both in front and behind the camera, Oprah acknowledges that it’s a short list that doesn’t compare to her co-honoree this year, James Earl Jones.
However, the Big O also said that while she may not have extensive screen credits, she definitely is no slouch when it comes to humanitarian efforts, stating, “but I don’t think there’s room for criticism in the do-good department.”
So, if her Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her work in The Color Purple, or the fact that she produced and starred in the big-screen adaptation of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, as well as executive-produced Precious, which won Oscars for Mo’Nique and Geoffrey Fletcher, don’t do anything to win you over, then maybe her philanthropy might? Like the $500+ million she’s given in donations to charitable causes over the years, including grants to nonprofit organizations worldwide, college scholarships, opening the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa (the school’s first senior class is about to graduate, and “100 percent of them are going to college,” said Oprah, the first in their families to do so.
Not enough for ya?
Well, too bad! She’s getting the award anyway, and there’s nothing you can do about it :)
The private untelevised Oscar ceremony will take place this Saturday, at the Grand Ballroom in Hollywood.
“Years ago, I gave it to Quincy Jones and I was honored to be on the stage just giving the award… To be the recipient of an award that’s given to you for your contributions toward doing something good for the world or trying to at least make a mark for a force for something that’s positive in the world, I just don’t think that there’s a better honor than that,” Oprah said.
I’m sure she’ll be back at work soon afterward to figure out how to get OWN on track…