Meryl Streep is one classy broad, and last night she schooled us all on how to do it. Here is what we can learn from Meryl Streep’s Oscar win for Best Actress, and her subsequent acceptance speech:
1. Be self-aware, even in your most triumphant moments. This is kind of another way of saying “don’t be cocky.” When she went onstage to accept her award, Streep started by saying, “When they called my name, I’d had this feeling I could hear half of America going ‘oh no…oh c’mon…why…her…again?'” I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who was in a room full of people in which that was at least partially true. Classiness is knowing when not to gloat.
2. At the same time, don’t be afraid to win. Streep followed that initial statement up with, “…but, whatever.” That’s also called “not letting the haters get to you.” But more than that, don’t overdo it with the self-deprecation. Be awesome. Be as awesome as you can possibly be. And don’t apologize for being awesome. Just circle back to #1 periodically.
3. Don’t take your success for granted. Despite the fact that a Meryl Streep win is a surprise to no one, she still said in an interview after the ceremony that hearing her name called was like being “in a white light.” This level of classiness is hard to get to, because it calls for genuine surprise. Meaning it can’t be faked. So, you know, something to work towards.
4. Don’t take the people around you for granted. Streep’s longtime make-up artist, Roy Helland, won an Oscar last night too for his work on “Iron Lady,” and Meryl spent a large chunk of her time thanking Helland in her speech and congratulating him on his win.
She also took a moment to acknowledge what an incredible run she’s had over the course of her career, and said, “I really want to thank all my colleagues, all my friends. I look out here and I see my life before my eyes, my old friends, my new friends and really this is such a great honor but the thing that counts the most with me is the friendships and the love and the sheer joy we have shared making movies together. My friends, thank you, all of you, departed and here for this inexplicably wonderful career.”
Well played, Meryl Streep.