Da’Vine Joy Randolph on embracing herself after Oscars win: ‘I knew I was always different’

Randolph, who stars in "The Holdovers," opened up backstage about accepting herself just as she is after winning her first Academy Award.

Da’Vine Joy Randolph is officially an Academy Award winner, but the path to her success hasn’t been a simple one. 

The actress, who won her first Oscar for her performance in “The Holdovers,” told theGrio backstage at the 2024 Academy Awards on Sunday that she thought she had to “conform” to society’s standards to be successful. In winning her first Oscar, she said, she realized she is enough just as she is. 

“I knew I was always different,” Randolph said when asked about her journey of accepting herself. “And so, therefore, I thought maybe I needed to conform to something else because when I looked at the show for many years as I was growing up, I didn’t necessarily see myself there. Yet, that was the model of success.” 

She continued: “So I was on this journey of trying to figure out how I could mold myself to that because I thought that’s what success would mean. And what I have begun to find in my journey is that in being myself and doing the work and staying focused and driven and clear, I could do exactly the same thing whilst being myself.” 

Randolph was overcome with tears when she won the best supporting actress Academy Award for her role in “The Holdovers” as cafeteria manager Mary Lamb. In the film, Lamb is grieving her only son while caring for students at an elite boarding school during the holidays. Randolph fully embodied the character, even wearing her grandmother’s glasses to bring a personal touch to the role. The actress shared during her Oscar acceptance speech that playing the role helped her embrace being herself. 

“For so long I’ve always wanted to be different, and now I realize I just need to be myself. And I thank you. I thank you for seeing me,’’ she said as she held her Oscar. “Ron Van Lieu, I thank you when I was the only Black girl in that class, when you saw me, and you told me I was enough. And when I told you I don’t see myself, you said, ‘That’s fine. We’re going to forge our own path. You’re going to lay a trail for yourself.'”

Randolph has dominated award season this year with best supporting actress wins at the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, AAFCA Awards, BAFTA Awards, Critics’ Choice Awards and now, the Oscars. Next up, Randolph will compete against Danielle Brooks, Taraji P. Henson and Halle Bailey for the best supporting actress prize at the NAACP Image Awards.  

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