Up until a few years ago, I used to watch award shows obsessively.
I adore movies and music and loved seeing the performances and acceptance speeches from musicians and actors and performers I admire.
But life gets hectic and so my award show viewing has become limited to reading articles and catching snippets the morning after.
The 75th Primetime Emmy Awards took place last night at the Peacock Theater in Los Angeles, and so I spent a few minutes this morning checking the winners list (cheers to “The Bear” and “Beef”—two of my personal favorites from the last year) and watching the speeches.
And without question, the speech of the night for me came from Niecy Nash-Betts, who won for Best Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series for her role as Glenda Cleveland in the Netflix series “Dahmer.”
While Nash-Betts is best known for her comedic roles, and now her dramatic ones, it was her boldness and honesty that pulled me in this morning and helped me start my day feeling encouraged and inspired.
This speech is a masterclass in self-love (and social activism) that we all need to hear:
(Scroll to the three minute mark!)
“And you know who I want to thank? I want to thank me. For believing in me and doing what they said I could not do.
And I want to say to myself, in front of all you beautiful people, ‘go on girl wit’ yo bad self!’ You did that!
Finally, I accept this award on behalf of every black and brown woman who has gone unheard yet over-policed, like Glenda Cleveland, like Sandra Bland, like Breonna Taylor. As an artist, my job is to speak truth to power and baby, I’m gon’ do it till the day I die.
Momma, I won!”
After her win, Nash-Betts entered the press room where a reporter asked this question: “During your acceptance speech, you thanked yourself and gave yourself the recognition you deserve, which is something women, especially Black women, can struggle to do. Why was it important for you to take that moment?”
Every word of Nash-Betts’ answer is pure fire and just as powerful, maybe even more so, than her actual speech:
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“Well because, you know, I’m the only one who knows what it cost me. I’m the only one who knows how many nights I cried because I couldn’t be seen for a certain type of role. I’m the one who knows what it’s like to go through divorce on camera and still have to pull up and show out and you still have to go home and you have children and a whole life.
So, I’m proud of myself. I’m proud that I did something that people said I could not do because I believed in me. And sometimes, people don’t believe in themselves, and I hope my speech was a delicious invitation for people to do just that.
Believe in yourself and congratulate yourself. Sometimes you got to encourage, what? Yourself. And that’s why it’s not called Momma-esteem, them-esteem, us-esteem—it’s called self-esteem. Cause don’t nobody got to believe it but you.”