You Have 45 Seconds

It’s the biggest night of your career. Over 30 million people will watch you take the stage to accept an award. Filled with pride and gratitude for everything that it took you to get to this pinnacle of success, you lift your trophy and approach the microphone.

You now have 45 seconds to express what’s in your heart. Go.

During last night’s Oscars a few took the opportunity to use one of the world’s largest stages to make an overt political point — no doubt earning appreciation from their fans but derision from those who disagreed with their views.

Others took the more standard approach of trying to squeeze into those 45 seconds as many names who worked with them on their film or supported them in their career.

But what if these two approaches were merged. The list of individuals actually MADE an important political point.

In a country that prides itself on individual accomplishment, the reality is that these speeches can serve as reminder of exactly how many different influences it takes to make our life story possible.

42 Replies to “You Have 45 Seconds”

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  2. With all of the answers the same except race and gender it made a 14 point difference in my score, so basically this is just another race based bash against white people.

    1. Hi Wild Bill, Thanks for your comment and engaging on this (and apologies for my delayed response). We weight all the answers equally so as to not count race or gender more than any other factor. While research shows that some factors may generally correlate with mobility more than others, we realize that for any one person’s life it is impossible for us to capture or weight any one factor more than the other. This is simply an attempt to get people to reflect on which factors may have helped or hindered your efforts to get ahead in life. In no way are we looking to pit one race against the other or bash any race or gender.

    2. i think you are not thinking clearly about what that 14-point difference means. How is it “bashing white people” to acknowledge that white skin alone protects you (and me) from many indignities that people who don’t have white skin suffer? It only reflects the basic ambivalence at the heart of the founding of this country: (1) there were other people living here when (white) Europeans arrived, and those other people were mostly treated as though they didn’t belong here, and (2) slave owners conceived of a nation of freedom for everyone. That’s a contradiction we of every skin color have to acknowledge and work through: make the dream of freedom for all real despite the ugliness of slavery, Civil War, Jim Crow, discrimination.

  3. I am white, a baby boomer, male and protestant–the very WASP whom I criticized so eloquently and vehemently from my clear-eyed perspectives in high school and college. My American Dream Score (49) only confirms what has become evident over the last 30 years.

  4. I think it is important for those who have a platform to use it to better our society. There have been many situations when our society has changed for the better due to those few who stuck out their necks and screamed “no! We won’t stand for it!” Silence is acceptance and I am proud of those in our great country that do not remain silent!

  5. I am fortunate that the time I grew up in was filled with changes: women’s movement, protests for equality, etc. Taught me to not give up when I believe things are wrong. With the current situation in politics, I know that my voice will be heard.

  6. I am so honored to be receiving this award. It is not without hard work and perseverance that I have come this far. Above all, I thank God for all his blessings, the trials and the triumphs. I thank him for putting me on a hard path, it challenged me, changed me, molded me, and made me who I am today.

    I cannot thank my husband enough for his sacrifices. He has been patient, kind, loyal, and I am undeserving of his love. I would like to thank my children for their patience and support and for giving me the motivation and inspiration to work harder each day and for giving me a reason to live. My daughter, (name), my son (name), all I want is to make you proud. There is no more important reward or recognition than the role I have as your mother.

    As i stand here, I am having a mental conversation. I have worked so hard to get to where I am emotionally, spiritually, today. I am nicer to myself. I love myself more. I am working through my personal battles each day with the best support group anyone could ask for.

    If there is anything I want to leave with you it’s this— be nice to yourself. Treat yourself how you would like others to treat you. “It’s okay to help just one person—and it’s okay if that person is you”

    Thank you!

  7. Hard work and obstacles are something to conquer and over come. Not an excuse to blame others.

    My score was 77 and you claim white privilege is what gave me everything. Personal responsibility and perseverance is the key not victimization

    1. Hi Keith, Thanks for engaging on this and for your comment. First to clarify what your score means. A score of 77 actually says that you had much more to overcome than factors working for you. So in that sense, it suggests that you weren’t privileged at all (regardless of your race). In general, we don’t like to think in terms of privilege but instead just using this as a means for people to reflect on the different factors that may have helped or hindered their hard work to get ahead. Thanks again for your comment.

  8. I am assigning this to my students for an English III project. I want to see what happens after I click “Post Comment” so I can instruct them how to prove to me they did this assignment.

    1. Hi Linda, My apologies for the delay in responding. We’ve only recently decided to post comments. I hope you’re students do indeed get this assignment. Also PBS Learning is developing a curriculum around Your American Dream Score for high school students if you’re interested, let me know.

  9. I would like to thank God for helping through hard times and continuing to give me strength to keep prospering and achieving things I didn’t think I could achieve. I also want to thank my mother because literally without her there would be no me. I would like to continue what I do but do it better every time.

  10. I think it would be better to leave politics alone in a big speech scenario so that no one was upset at you. Also giving people credit for what they did is always great for others and doesn’t make anyone mad.

  11. Studying at university was one of my biggest dreams and I could make it come true. All those people who gave me advice helped me overcome the most difficult moments in my student life and the work they did so that I never miss anything is worthy of recognition. I want to thang all of you for believing in me and motivating me to be a professional, many times I thought about quitting everything but all of you made me sss that that was not the right way, now I’m a university graduate and I feel ready to face the challenges of lifetime. All of you have always been great example of constancy for me, and that is why I love you with all my heart.

  12. It takes a lot of people to help you get where you going and those people come from different backgrounds. Without the mixture and blend of people and their backgrounds, I wouldn’t be who I am today. When people come together, success is created

  13. I just want to thank everyone who has ever helped me in any way gain the success that I have now. It does not matter from what walk of life you come from you can be anything you want be. The racism in schools, jobs, and society needs to be demolished. Any color can do anything and without racism America and the american dream would finally be perfect! I do not care if you are black, asian, native american, korean, or indian. It does not matter because in America anyone can be anything. Thank you and good evening.

  14. I would like to thank my mom for always supporting me and encouraging me through everything I do. I would also like to thank my sister for always being by my side, and my other family members/friends for always cheering me one. I can’t thank you enough!!!!!

  15. I do agree with the idea that a person that is receiving this award has a right to say what they believe, but when all the speeches are anti-president and such, it is just pointless because the president is just a job and all the people that voted have jobs. My point is that people often will blame a particular person for their troubles when really it is themselves to blame for making this country a worse place, and it starts with these celebrities who like to stir up controversy to gain popularity.

  16. I would thank my sisters, for always being there for me. I have endured way too many hardships to be able to be here, and they have helped me through every single stage of them. I am truly blessed to be here.

  17. First off I would like to thank everyone that’s here tonight. Secondly, I would like to thank everyone who has helped create this great society we have today. Benjamin Franklin, I would like to thank you for being a part of the group that has given us our Constitution, and giving us the rights we have today. I would also like to thank Michelle Obama for showing us the importance of healthy eating, and her care for children. I also cant forget our wonderful soldiers who have fought on the front line, to protect our rights. Thank you everyone for this amazing opportunity, and for making this world a better place.

  18. My parents and a few teachers set the example of equality, compassion and creative possibility. How wonderful to have learned by their example. I use their influence daily when touching the lives of others. May the ripple effect continue outward, inward and throughout humanity and tge environment! Salud!!!

  19. My parents and a few teachers set the example of equality, compassion and creative possibility. How wonderful to have learned by their example. I use their influence daily when touching the lives of others. May the ripple effect continue outward, inward and throughout humanity and the environment! Salud!!!

  20. I will start by thanking the all mighty God for all my blessings that he showered upon me, then I will thank my parents and my brother for believing in me, then I will thank all my friends and family and teachers who helped me along the way.

  21. I feel that if you are being awarded for a talent or skill, you should talk about who helped you get to that point in your life or how hard you worked and the struggles you faced. I don’t think you should try and sneak in political views, just because you earned an award doesn’t make your political view/ opinion any better or right than the guy working at McDonald’s. You received an award for talent not your political views, so you shouldn’t talk about your political view.

  22. If you had 45 seconds would it be enough? That’s a short amount of time, but how much time do you really need to give gratitude and recognition to those who matter? This article said that it takes many people to make our life story possible. How many people have you listened to and had something change in you? More than you’d remember id bet. Just because we don’t remember every speech we’ve ever heard or they all weren’t from personal friends that doesn’t mean they don’t shape you. To be individual you must be influenced.

  23. I would first thank God because without His blessing I would never achieved anything. Then I would give my appreciation to all who helped me in so many ways get here. They know who they are and I will personally thank them.

  24. Admiring the time and energy you put into your blog and detailed information you present.
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  25. I just came across this by accident but I like to thank both the author and KO for this respond “It takes a lot of people to help you get where you going and those people come from different backgrounds. Without the mixture and blend of people and their backgrounds, I wouldn’t be who I am today.” Reason, in America many tends to divide the country into only two racial groups White or Black and sometime Hispanics but in reality a lot of silent inequality exist towards other racial groups too. Also even among White class, there are discrimination and unfairness. A Eastern European White person might not be treated the same or have the same privileges as an offspring of another White descendants.

  26. My life has not been a bed of roses but with the help of some very special teachers in my life I made my mark in this life .Thank you family and friends for your love and support,

  27. I would like to thank God for being there for me at all times. I’ve struggled with a lot of hardships when I was younger due to emotional abuse from family and friends. Once I felt God’s everlasting love, I was able overcome everything and just reached out to Him. Through Him, my family and friends were able reconcile and found God also. The Lord has turned the evil into good. Because of Him, I’ve also met many Christian friends and mentors that helps me along the way.

  28. I would like to thank my parents because they were always there when I needed them. My parents not only helped me fight through my current situations, but also are teaching how to conquer difficult times in the future.

  29. I would like to thank everyone who was there was for me and helped me get to this point, and how grateful I am to live in society where I can achieve my dreams and goals.

  30. I would like to thank my family and everyone who was there for me throughout my journey to help me get where I am today. I am also grateful to live in a society that has provided me with this opportunity.

  31. I would spend my 45 seconds thanking eveyrone who got me to that point. I would make sure to let the people know it was the kindest, and compassion that got me there…

  32. I have both ambitions and goals in life. My ambitions in profession is what has brought me here tonight. However, how wonderful and great this might be, my goal, that of continued growth throughout life, has yet to be fulfilled. My wish for all here is the same, so that in our meeting 25 to 40 years from today we will once again meet as different people to celebrate the Wisdom of that growth.  I pray tonight we are all just at the beginnings of our growth, our growth in understand where the True Love, True Humility and the True Peace of God lies! God’s Speed to all in your journey!

  33. Thanks to my parents for providing me with exceptional emotional and material security, to my wife for supporting my varied career shifts, and to my teachers for helping me understand what’s really going on in the world. Thanks also to my neighbors for making my home a great place to live, and my customers and colleagues for accepting my interpretations of how we can work together to realize our personal and shared ambitions. And thanks to my state of WV for surrounding me (1) with natural beauty that all can enjoy regardless of economic circumstances, and (2) people who are well grounded in the pragmatics of life — namely, that without humility, resilience, resourcefulness, and the willingness to offer and accept help from others, we suffer more than necessary.

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