I always said if I ever hit the New York Times Best Sellers list I would write an Oscar speech. I really didn’t think I would ever write it, but now that I have, I figured I would share it with you. It’s more of a story than it is a speech, and I didn’t include you, but I have to thank you because you are the reason I’m even writing this right now, so thank you!
When I was in college I wanted to change my major from Psychology to English. My father, who paid my tuition, said if I did, he would stop paying, so I continued down the path I’d originally chosen from myself, which was bad enough in his eyes. He wanted me to be a doctor, a lawyer, something “respectable”. My father was none of these things. My father taught himself to read at an early age. He taught himself to write and at some point began jotting down stories for his friends who went to school. Going to school was a privilege he lost when he was eight years old and had four younger brothers and sisters to care for. He’d wash windshields, shine shoes, and pick up whatever other jobs he could so he could help put food on the table. But through the trials he faced and the innocence he lost, my father never stopped dreaming and he never stopped writing.
Years later he met my mother, married, had me, moved to the US and they continued working their asses off in this foreign place with unknown people and strange language. We moved, and moved, and moved. We were kicked out of places; we struggled and went through what most immigrants go through when they come from their country. Through all of this, my father never let go of his dream. We moved from Jersey to Miami, where we met loads of people, some of whom helped my father achieve that dream he had when he sat on that muddy corner in that ghetto street in his little town of Moca in Dominican Republic. Growing up, while he sat down and wrote speeches for men who would later become presidents of that country, I sat beside him and wrote stories.
I was told not once, not twice, but countless times that fiction would never get me anywhere. Fiction was for dreamers, for people who couldn’t own their reality. These words came from a man who got lost in fiction as a child because he needed it in order to survive a day in the slums. It always reminded me of a quote from one of my favorite books, The Little Prince, “All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.” I saw where his dream led him. I saw what power and money and everything that comes with it did to our family. I kept writing for myself, for the young girl who was in a completely different situation than he was as a young boy, but was lost just the same.
My dreams were different from his, they still are. Mine were about love and family and time to enjoy those things with. Mine involved proving him and all those other naysayers wrong. Yesterday, I proved them wrong, but even as I was reveling in that, I laughed because I realized that I also kind of proved my father right. Yesterday I proved that dreams do come true and that fiction isn’t for people who can’t own their own reality, because one person’s fiction is another person’s reality. I learn that with every fictional book I publish. Years ago my father proved that you can go from nothing to something. Yesterday I proved that his struggle, that my family’s struggles, that everything we went through was worth it. My only wish is that he was still here to celebrate this win with me, because I know that despite everything he said, the dream I’m living today is something he would be proud of.