And the Award goes to. . . Birmingham!


I remember watching my first awards show like it was yesterday.

It was 2002. My pre-teen self was amazed at the glitz and glamour on the old school, box-like TV screen. Halle Berry won Best Actress for her role in Monster’s Ball and gave the most beautiful speech. She was overwhelmed with emotion as she became the first black woman to take home the Best Actress statue. She looked like a dream in her floral Elie Saab ballgown.

Although I had never seen any of the movies that won in 2002, it was clear that winning these golden statues were what dreams are made of. Thus began my lifelong obsession with movies and the actors that bring them to life. Year after year, you can find me in front of the TV on awards night with my predictions in hand, a charcuterie board nearby, and my favorite glass of bubbles to celebrate with.

As a small town girl from the South, the awards always seemed so far away, so out of touch, and so out of reach. Although I rehearsed my acceptance speech a thousand times, I finally came to terms with the fact that my talents lie elsewhere and these awards were only the stuff of fantasy. So, imagine my excitement and joy last weekend when this small town Southern girl watched a small town Southern boy snag the top prizes! 

When the awards season began a few months back, all anyone could talk about was the movie Everything Everywhere All At Once.

Being a mom of four, I don’t make it to many movies that aren’t animated, so this film was news to me. Not long after, my husband mentioned that the film was being screened at the Sidewalk Film Festival and that maybe it had local ties. The conversation stopped there, but my research did not. A quick search revealed that, yes, the film rocking the award season had more than just a few ties to Alabama.

One half of the dynamic screenwriting and directing team known as “The Daniels” is none other than Birmingham native, Daniel Scheinert. What?! My inner fan girl started to freak out! Scheinert attended Oak Mountain Elementary School just down the road from my house! He developed his talents attending high school at Shades Valley and credits the Sidewalk Film Festival in downtown Birmingham for giving him a space to share his craft early on. How amazing that someone so gifted is the product of the same environment that I live in!! I had to see this film for myself!

If you have not yet viewed the Daniels’ masterpiece, Everything Everywhere All At Once, do yourself a favor and put it on your to-watch list right now!

Tuck the kids in bed early tonight, pop a bag of popcorn, and prepare to have your mind blown! Although the title of the film sounds like a typical mom’s afternoon of extracurricular activities (they DO feel like everywhere all at once, am I right?), this movie is far from your typical entertainment. The Daniels bring the multiverse to life in a fast-paced, thrilling way. Their characters are complex and intriguing. Of course, I was most moved by Michelle Yeoh’s character who has to step waaaay out of her comfort zone to save her family and the entire multi-verse. Leave it to the mom to get it all done!

This is the kind of movie that is so unique you can’t imagine how someone came up with the idea and developed it into the masterful finished product. How can someone be so creative and talented? Where would you even start?! The details and intricacies are layered in every scene. And to know this masterpiece has its roots in Birmingham? What a source of pride for us all! 

Fast forward to the big night.

By no surprise at all, Everything Everywhere All At Once started the evening with 11 nominations. It ended the night with seven wins, including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Supporting Actor. But the biggest wins of the night in my eyes were Daniel Scheinert’s big wins for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay alongside his partner Daniel Kwan; and Best Film Editing, which also went to a Birmingham native, Paul Rogers. The audience of movie stars and Hollywood royalty stood and cheered at each win. The feeling in the Dolby Theater was clear–this film is something special, and so are the people who made it. 

As impressive as the wins were, nothing compares to the genuine acceptance speeches given by Scheinert throughout the evening. You can spot a Southern boy anywhere! He thanked his parents, his family, his co-workers, his cast, and the film’s crew. He humbly thanked many of his public school teachers by name for encouraging him and shaping his future. Can you imagine? These teachers live among us in Birmingham and were thanked on Hollywood’s biggest stage for the impact they made on a student. I cannot think of anything more important to say on the biggest night of your life, than a thanks for the people who helped get you there. 

Watching and listening last night made me feel like we are the ones that should say “Thank you” to Daniel Scheinert.

Thank you for dreaming the big dreams and never giving up on them. Thank you for sharing your talents with your local community and the whole world! Thank you for showing our children that they can be anything and do anything they set their minds to, no matter where they come from! Thank you for reminding me that inspiration and creativity can be found all around us.

If you can grow up in Alabama and develop the talent to create such works of art, then my children and their peers can, too! And they don’t have to take my word for it, they can look to YOU as an example! Thank you for being such a positive reflection of our city and our state for the whole world to see. Thank you for reminding us all what a treasure teachers are and what an important role they play in our children. Thank you for creating the magic that is the movies. There has never been a time where we need movies more than right now.

Thank you for giving me a chance to say this last line that I’ve always wanted to say. “Thank you. . . to the Academy. . . for recognizing one of the best of us!”