By: Anne T. Donahue
Here is my new favourite piece of information: when HBO didn’t submit Gwendoline Christie for an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama (for Game of Thrones), she submitted herself. And then she was nominated. And now everybody can go fuck themselves.
Which is not what Christie said. Alternately and much more professionally, she took to Instagram, posted the email informing her that she’d earned a nomination, and thanked the universe. Admittedly, I would’ve done the same, but in my salty, vengeful heart, I’d forever harbor resentment for not being submitted by the network that employed me and “mistakenly” forward them the same email with the simple caption: “Who would’ve thought? Not you, I guess!”
Here’s the thing: I obviously don’t know Gwendoline Christie, and I obviously don’t know what her dynamic with HBO is like because I don’t work there. I also don’t want to make the assumption that Christie put on a lady boss slogan t-shirt as she advocated for herself because her costars Alfie Allen and Carice Van Houten also submitted their own names and also garnered nominations. (And then I would have to assume that they did the same thing.) Also, I think it’s a mistake to define every power move with “get it, girl!” rhetoric because not every choice is defined by one’s gender, and I don’t want to assign a footnote to Gwendoline Christie’s narrative because who the hell am I to do that? She’s a talented, powerful woman who earned a deserved nomination for her work on a series that, for one reason or another, didn’t submit her on their own. So she opted to submit herself and got results. And that, I fucking love. And want to learn to do more of.
I’m someone who wants (and needs) an inordinate amount of praise and attention because I’m a demon. And I’m someone who, if I don’t get that inordinate amount of praise and attention, will begin harbouring a type of resentment that is quenched only by, say, being nominated for an Emmy that I submitted myself for. And yet, owning my shit is a challenge. With every, “Look what I wrote!” tweet or, “Come see this panel I’m on!” I hesitate to self-promote because what if it annoys someone? What if I’m being too loud? What if it’s classier just to let strangers stumble upon things? Why can’t I master the art of being demure? Why do I feel like a teen putting up posters for the school election during lunch? (“Look at me! But also don’t! I don’t know, guys! Do you like me?”)
But thinking this way is annoying. As in, I’m annoyed by it. I’m annoyed that it’s common to neutralize one’s enthusiasm about their work because it seems too aggressive to simply own it. I’m tired of accompanying something I’ve done with the fear that being makes it less valid. I’m exhausted by this conversation in general because I feel like we’ve been having it since social media was born. Especially since we know that even if accompanying a major life development with the simple, “I did a thing” (I can’t with this anymore, I’m sorry), you’re still asking everybody to acknowledge it. Without asking everybody to really acknowledge it. What the hell? Are we okay?
Well, no. (Like, nobody is. In the world.) But there’s a difference between being a dick and being proud of something you’ve done. It’s not up to you to make your cool thing easier for other people to digest. It isn’t necessary to play down how excited you are or how hard you worked or how much a project means a lot to you. You don’t need to tweet, “Hey losers, look what I did!” (because that would be absolutely bananas and super rude if you’re not joking), but if your sincerity makes other people angry, that’s on them. Frankly, it’s weird for someone to dislike you because you’re promoting your work. Again, unless you’re being condescending and terrible. Which I’m sure you aren’t, so there.
And I get that this is difficult. We want to be liked. We don’t want to be rude. We don’t want to make people feel bad. But you achieving something has nothing to do with any of the aforementioned. You posting a piece you wrote and asking people to read it isn’t being rude. Revealing how excited you are about something isn’t an exercise in bullying. You can totally just submit yourself for an Emmy and then be excited when the Academy’s like, “Well, duh.” You can champion yourself. And you can still be kind.
So while I don’t know Gwendoline Christie, I do know that I respect the hell out of (and love) her self-submission. I love that she clearly thought, “Why not me?” and then celebrated that recognition when it was finally announced. I love the enthusiasm and the earnestness and the public display of believing in herself. I like it so much better than the casual “I guess I did something cool guys, IDK!” or playing down something you worked so hard for. Fucking own your shit. Because nobody else will. Not even HBO. (That is, until after you’ve done the work, I guess.)
You have just the most incredible way of navigating the confusing Shit storm of thoughts that circulate through everyone’s mind as they try to find the balance of celebrating success without bragging too much. Brilliant, as always!