The script actresses must follow during press appearances and red carpet walks is much more stringent than anything you’d find on a movie set.
The phrase “it’s an honour just to be nominated” may sometimes roll off the tongues of us common folk with a hint of sarcastic humour but within the hallowed halls of Hollywood events, it’s not an expected turn of phrase with a rich backstory.
For performers working the awards circuit, particularly actresses who always have to walk a much finer publicity line, there is a script to follow when asked about awards nominations, who is going to win and what it’s like to be left off the list altogether.
The widely accepted company line for when you are nominated is to wax lyrical about your fellow nominees while also expressing shock and awe that you were even included in the mix at all. If your name doesn’t make it onto an awards show ballot, however, the rule of thumb is to then gracefully point out that you never expected to be nominated in the first place and it’s enough that people loved your film.
This would all be well and good, of course, if not for the fact that award season nominations and wins are a lucrative and highly competitive aspect of the filmmaking industry, with the Oscars, in particular, having the power to boost an actor’s asking price and pump up box office sales.
This is why studios and performers always covertly run such extensive and expensive Oscar campaigns; because unless you’re part of the Marvel machine, you really need to be up on that stage tearfully clutching a gold statue and thanking your parents if you want to accelerate your career.
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With this legacy in mind, it was all the more surprising and inspiring when Jennifer Lopez recently completely threw out the pre-approved celebrity script, publically expressing her hurt and sadness that she was excluded from the 2020 Oscars race in front of a crowd of 13,000 people.
The 50-year-old singer and actress enjoyed the biggest live-action box office opening of her career with the release of Hustlers in 2019, along with a level of critical acclaim that she had never before experienced in the acting industry, with her name appearing on nominee lists for the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Following Best Supporting Actress wins at the Hollywood Critics Association Awards and the New York Film Critics Awards, the narrative was cemented that Jenny From The Block was about to be a first-time Oscar nominee.
Then the Academy Award nominations were released and while the names of Kathy Bates, Laura Dern, Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh and Margot Robbie were all included on the list, the name ‘Jennifer Lopez’ was surprisingly nowhere to be seen.
Now the actress has addressed the issue of her Oscar exclusion for the first time, during an on-stage interview with Oprah Winfrey as part of Oprah’s 2020 Vision Tour.
Instead of following the celebrity rule of brushing off the awards circuit banter and making us believe it wasn’t even on her radar, Jennifer chose to lean into the question and not sugar coat her feelings of failure, delivering an answer that wouldn’t fit neatly into an Instagram empowerment feed.
“I was sad, I was a little sad because there was a lot of build-up to it,” Jennifer said. “There were so many articles, I got so many good notices — more than ever in my career — and there was a lot of ‘She’s going to get nominated for an Oscar’, ‘It’s going to happen’, ‘If it doesn’t you’re crazy.’