How to Win an Oscar | An Actor's Guide to the Academy Awards

How to Win an Oscar

Written by on | Acting Industry

Largely regarded as the pinnacle of awards for actors, directors, and filmmakers of all kinds, the Oscar has long been sought after by anyone and everyone who’s ever worked in the film industry. But before we dive into how you can go about winning your own Oscar, let’s first have a little chat about what they are.

What is an Oscar?

An Academy Award of Merit, otherwise referred to by its nickname an ‘Oscar’, is an award presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for artistic and technical merit in the film industry, and are largely considered to be the most prestigious and significant awards in the entertainment industry worldwide. 

But How Do I Win One?

There are a number of factors that come into play when an actor or any other film industry worker is after an Oscar, but for the purposes of simplicity, and since you’re reading this on, let’s use an actor as an example.

The Performance

So before you can even be nominated you have to give a noteworthy performance in a major motion picture. Getting the opportunity to work on a major motion picture is a whole other story, and those reading are probably aware of the gauntlet that must be run to get into that room, but for the sake of this experiment, let’s skip right to when we’re starring in a feature film. Some films and thus performances, by nature, are simply more likely to be considered for the Oscars. But that is step #1! Give an Oscar worthy performance, in an Oscar worthy film.

The Viewing

This is a pretty complicated subject, so we’re gonna trim it down for the sake of our little experiment and talk about the most important aspects. So, after you’ve given your Oscar worthy performance, the members of the Academy of which there are about 7000 will be invited to view all of the eligible films in a number of ways including the Academy Screening Room, DVD viewings at home, or more recently, an encrypted and watermarked streaming platform dedicated to the viewing of these films.

The Voting

After the members of the Academy have viewed these films, they will cast their votes within a particular deadline, which will first be audited and verified by a firm called PricewaterhouseCoopers, and then passed on to the Academy itself to be counted and tabulated. A process that can take thousands of hours.

The Oscars Campaign Trail

When you’re eligible for an Oscar, you’ll have to run the gauntlet of the Oscars press tour. Actors will then begin doing interviews, meetups and any number of press meets to promote their film, and themselves in order to build up hype for their film and their performance.

The Award Ceremony

So finally, Oscars night has arrived! And you find yourself and three nominees in your category waiting for the moment they announce who has won the award for this year. Finally, your category comes up, they stick a camera in your face, and wouldn’t you know it? They call your name. Then all that’s left to do is to go on stage and make your speech! Congratulations, you’ve won your Oscar!

Criticism of the Oscars

It would be wrong to talk about the Oscars and not talk about the raft of criticism the award ceremony and the Academy itself has faced and continues to face. This organization has done a lot of good, but it also has done, and supports a lot of wrongdoing, to a number of communities. They have faced accusations of bias. They have historically had a lack of diversity both on stage and off. In 2012, the results of a study conducted by the Los Angeles Times were published describing the demographic breakdown of approximately 88% of AMPAS’ voting membership. Of the 5,100+ active voters confirmed, 94% were Caucasian, 77% were male, and 54% were found to be over the age of 60. 33% of voting members are former nominees (14%) and winners (19%). See #Oscarssowhite, a hashtag that took off about this very subject, if you’d like to read more. They have been called out for their gender segregation by gender equality and non-binary activists for their segregation awards by male and female. And they have knowingly supported members, and others who have been accused and convicted for heinous crimes. So it is important to remember the historical and ongoing problems within the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences whenever we discuss them, to hopefully be able to work toward a more equitable future within the International Film Industry as a whole.

Conclusion: A Disclaimer

We all dream big, and dreaming big is a brilliant thing. But when you’re dreaming of the dress you might wear, or what you might say, or imagining just how heavy that statuette really is. Try to keep in mind that an award is not the only way to be a successful, fulfilled and serving artist. It is an incredible and wonderful thing to be nominated or to even win an Oscar. But equally important is remembering how you got there. Being a successful artist is not about gold statues, or nice clothes, or fame. It’s about whether you feel fulfilled artistically. It’s about serving your community. It’s about holding a mirror up to the world to offer some joy, some food for thought, and some catharsis, and ultimately about making good art. So dream big and chase that Oscar, or Grammy, or BAFTA, or Tony, or Emmy! But don’t let awards and accolades affect the value you hold of yourself as an artist, that will only come from you!


About the Author

StageMilk Team

StageMilk Team is made up of professional actors and writers from around the world. This team includes Andrew, Alex, Luke, Jake, Indiana, Patrick and more. We all work together to contribute useful articles and resources for actors at all stages in their careers.

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