Be Great, But Also Grateful

Be great, but also grateful: that is the message I got from Jared Leto’s speech at the Oscars.

Jared Leto wins the first award of the evening, the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his turn in 'Dallas Buyers Club.'

Generally, I do not watch the Academy Awards ceremony, although on the rare occasions I did, something special usually happened (for one, my first kiss several years ago). This last year was no exception to that ‘exception rule’.

But before I get carried away, here’s the speech Mr. Leto delivered on March 2nd:

“Incredible….To my fellow nominees, I’m so proud to share this journey with you. I’m in awe and have so much respect for you all.

To the Academy, thank you. In 1971, in Bossier City Louisiana, there was a teenage girl who was pregnant with her second child. She was a high school dropout and a single mom, but somehow she managed to make a better life for herself and her children. She encouraged her kids to be creative and work hard and do something special. That girl was my mother and she’s here tonight. I just want to say ‘I love you mom, thank you for teaching me to dream.’ 

To my brother Shannon, the best big brother in the world: Thank you so much for sharing this insane adventure that is 30 Seconds to Mars and for being my best friend.

To all the dreamers out there around the world watching this tonight in places like Ukraine and Venezuela, I want to to say we are here, and as you struggle to make your dreams happen and live the impossible, we are thinking of you tonight.


This is for the 36 million people who have lost the battle to AIDS. And to those of you who have ever felt injustice because of who you are and who you love, I stand here in front of the world with you and for you.

Thank you so much, and good night.”

What was so poignant about this speech was its genuine tone, but most of all the gratefulness he expressed for those who have supported his endeavours and shared them with him. Often times, it seems as if ‘winners stand alone’… But not at the Oscars: there, it is customary to give thanks – a beautiful paradox in a way, when considering Hollywood appears as a prime example of individualism.

In our society, the hero, the winner is glorified, and often presented to us alone; a success story made by one. This is not to deny that success requires willpower, and that willpower usually depends on an individual’s intellectual/physical/emotional strength (make your pick). But the point is, “No man is an island”.

It was refreshing to listen to Mr. Leto. It was refreshing to watch him share his success with his mother and brother, with the AIDS victims having inspired the script and the role that led him to obtain a first Oscar win.

I think it’s a good reminder for those of us who watched, and listened to those words; a reminder to be grateful towards the people that accompany us on the road to our dreams, a reminder to give thanks once we fulfill our aspirations and reach our goals. A beautiful lesson indeed.

It makes me want to end this blog post with thanks. After all,  I am grateful for the people I’ve met… and even the ones I never have.

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