Last night’s Academy Awards were full of major celeb moments, from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's heart-wrenching rendition of "Shallow" to the noticeable lack of a host. And we can certainly add Rami Malek's Best Actor win to the list.
The Egyptian-American actor earned the accolade for his critically-acclaimed performance as Freddie Mercury in the Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody. One of the most talked-about films of the year, he also nabbed Best Actor at this year's Golden Globes, the BAFTAs and was widely tipped as the frontrunner for the Academy Award.
Although his win wasn't a total surprise, his touching acceptance speech in tribute to his Egyptian-American identity was sweet and unexpected.
“I am the son of immigrants from Egypt; I’m a first-generation American. And part of my story is being written right now," he said. "And I could not be more grateful to each and every one of you, and everyone who believed in me for this moment. It’s something I will treasure for the rest of my life.”
He took the opportunity to reflect on his adolescent struggle with feelings of belonging and reconciling with his cultural heritage. "I think about what it would have been like to tell little bubba Rami that one day this might happen to him, and I think his curly-haired little mind would be blown. That kid was struggling with his identity, trying to figure himself out.”
He also sent a powerful message about the importance of telling Freddie Mercury’s story and dedicated it to anyone struggling with their own identity and finding their voice, telling the audience it was the tale of “an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself." He added, "The fact that I’m celebrating him and this story with you tonight is proof that we’re longing for stories like this."
Thank you to the Academy for recognizing the work of so many from the cast and crew who made all of this possible. I have absolutely treasured playing Freddie Mercury and I am so profoundly humbled and thrilled to honor him this way.— Rami Malek (@ItsRamiMalek) January 22, 2019
He reserved his thanks for his family, the cast, crew, the Academy and of course the band that made history, Queen. Queen, after performing at the ceremony themselves, took to Twitter to congratulate the star on a well-deserved win.
Rami has spoken publicly in the past about his ancestry, the importance of representing Egypt, and the obstacles that accompany his status as a Middle Eastern actor in Hollywood. He told GQ Middle East, “I feel so gorgeously tied to the culture and the human beings that exist there. I acknowledge that I have a different experience, but I am so enamoured and intertwined with Egyptian culture. It is the fabric of who I am.”
"I am the son of immigrants from Egypt, I am a first generation American." #RamiMalek delivers a powerful and touching acceptance speech after winning an #Oscar for “Best Actor.” #Oscars19 #PowerStarLive
pic.twitter.com/9UxTR92tJg— PowerStarLive (@PowerStarLive) February 25, 2019
He joins a legacy of Egyptians at the Oscars, with the first-ever Arab Oscar submission, Cairo Station, coming from Egypt in 1959. Also noteworthy was beloved Omar Sharif’s historic Best Supporting Actor nomination in 1963, of whom Rami is a self-proclaimed fan. This win makes him the first star of Egyptian descent to take home the Best Actor prize at the Academy Awards.
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