7 Oscars speech tributes to single mums

Acceptance speeches at the Academy Awards, or the Oscars as we all call them, are a seemingly endless roll call of thank yous. Amongst the gratitude there are often significant and heartfelt tributes to single mothers.

Many children of single parents know intimately the discrimination, lack of support and financial penalty that is allotted to parents doing it on their own. These speeches highlight and celebrate work that continues to be undervalued and made invisible.

Within the speeches there is a sense that this moment is a culmination of sacrifice and beating the odds, with award recipients attributing their success to their single mothers.  Where other Oscar speeches list their thanks, these speeches scream “WE did it!”

Phillip Seymour Hoffman wins Best Actor in 2006

“And my mom's name is Marilyn O'Connor, and she's here tonight. And I'd like if you see her tonight to congratulate her, because she brought up four kids alone and she deserves a congratulations for that. Ah, we're at the party, ma, you know? And she took me to my first play and she stayed up with me and watched the NCAA final four, and my passions, her passions became my passions. And, you know, be proud, mom, because I'm proud of you and we're here tonight and it's so good. Thank you.”

Hilary Swank wins Best Actress in 2000

When she was fifteen, Hilary Swank’s parents separated. Hilary and her mother moved to Los Angelges, where they lived out of a car to pursue Hilary’s acting career. Hilary Swank has previously said that her mother is the inspiration for her acting and her life in general. 

“My mom, who's up there somewhere. It looks like living out of our car was worth it.”

Halle Berry wins Best Actress in 2002

Halle Berry was raised by her single mother from a young age.

“I want to thank my mom who has given me the strength to fight every single day to be who I want to be and to give me the courage to dream, that this dream might be happening and possible for me. I love you, Mom, so much.”

Jared Leto wins Best Supporting Actor in 2014

In 1971, 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, to work hard and to do something special. That girl is my mother, and she's here tonight. And I just want to say, I love you, Mom. Thank you for teaching me to dream.”

Charlize Theron wins Best Actress in 2004

At the age of 15, Charlize Theron witnessed her mother shoot dead her violent father after he threatened to murder them both.

"And my mom. You've sacrificed so much for me to be able to live here and make my dreams come true and there are no words to describe how much I love you. And I'm not gonna cry. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

Jodie Foster wins Best Actress in 1989 and 1992

Jodie Foster was raised by her single mother after her parents separated when her mother was pregnant with her.

“And most importantly my mother Brandy, who taught me that all of my finger paintings were Picassos, and that I didn't have to be afraid. And mostly that cruelty might be very human, and it might be very cultural, but it's not acceptable. Which is what this movie's about. Thank you so much.”

“And most of all I'd like to thank my mother Brandy, my friend, the person who has loved me so much and so well that she taught me in inimitable "Little Man Tate" fashion to fly away. Thank you.”


Hannah Gissane

Hannah Gissane is Project Coordinator for the Equality Rights Alliance, Australia’s largest network of organisations advocating for women’s equality, women’s leadership and recognition of women’s diversity. 

Website: www.equalityrightsalliance.org.au
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