The 91st Academy Awards was a whirl of unexpected wins and strong speeches. Power women took the stage and told their success stories. Ahead are some of the most inspiring quotes by women in the history of the Oscars.

1. Lady Gaga


This pop star has gone through some epic ups and downs in her career. But she’s not backing down. 

“It’s not about winning but what it’s about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight for it. If there’s a discipline for passion, and it’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or you’re beaten up. It’s about how many times you stand up and are brave, and you keep on going.” – Lady Gaga, Best Orginal Song 2019


2. Constance Wu

Photo: 123rf

We’re all for Asian representation on the big screen and this Asian-American actress has been continuously serving up great performances. From playing the archetypal Asian-American mum in television series Fresh Off the Boat to being strong-willed Rachel Chu in Crazy Rich Asians, Constance is Asian representation at its finest.  

“To be something like that for young women today,” she said, “to let them know they can be heroes of their own stories and their stories are worthy and interesting and people want to know them… that has been so meaningful to me.” – Constance Wu, Oscars 2019


3. Hannah Beachler

Photo: Instagram/blerdswithfriends

Black Panther gave us thrills in the best ways. It was an action film that put so many actors of African descent in the limelight (and with good reason, they delivered great performances). But Hannah Beachler is the woman behind the amazing production design. She is also the first black person to win an Oscar for production design. 

 “And when you think it’s impossible, just remember to say this piece of advice I got from a very wise woman: I did my best, and my best is good enough.” – Hannah Beachler, Best Production Design 2019


4. Cate Blanchett

The most inspiring Oscar quotes of all time by award-winning actresses

Cate Blanchett brought attention to female-led films long before the recent spate of calls for equality when she thanked the distributors of her film.

“For so bravely and intelligently distributing the film and to the audiences who went to see it and perhaps those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people.” – Cate Blanchett, Best Actress for Blue Jasmine in 2014


5. Frances McDormand 

The most inspiring Oscar quotes of all time by award-winning actresses

After asking all the female nominees in every category to stand with her, Frances McDormand then implored everyone in the industry to pay more attention to women.

“Look around, ladies and gentlemen, because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed. Don’t talk to us about it at the parties tonight. Invite us into your office in a couple days, or you can come to ours, whatever suits you best, and we’ll tell you all about them.” – Frances McDormand, Best Actress for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri in 2018


6. Lupita Nyong’o

The most inspiring Oscar quotes of all time by award-winning actresses

Mexican-born, Kenyan-raised actress Lupita Nyong’o was late to acting and won for her performance in her first film.

“When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.” – Lupita Nyong’o, Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years A Slave in 2014


7. Halle Berry 

With this win, Halle Berry became the first black woman to win a Best Actress Oscar.

 “This moment is so much bigger than me…It’s for every nameless, faceless woman of colour that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.” – Halle Berry, Best Actress for Monster’s Ball in 2000


8. Charlize Theron 

The most inspiring Oscar quotes of all time by award-winning actresses

South African actress Charlize Theron gave a special nod to her mother when she won her first and only Oscar (so far) in 2004.

“And my mom. You’ve sacrificed so much for me to be able to live here and make my dreams come true and there are no words to describe how much I love you. And I’m not gonna cry. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” – Charlize Theron, Best Actress for Monster in 2004


9. Viola Davis

The most inspiring Oscar quotes of all time by award-winning actresses

Viola Davis is known for her heartfelt and powerful awards speeches and, after she gave her acceptance speech in 2017, Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel quipped: “Viola Davis just won an Emmy for that speech.”

“You know, there’s one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered. One place and that’s the graveyard. People ask me all the time, what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola? And I say, exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories. The stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition. People who fell in love and lost. I became an artist – and thank God I did – because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.” – Viola Davis, Best Supporting Actress for Fences in 2017



10. Patricia Arquette

The most inspiring Oscar quotes of all time by award-winning actresses

Patricia Arquette rallied for women’s rights in her acceptance speech.

“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”- Patricia Arquette, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for Boyhood in 2015


11. Hilary Swank

The most inspiring Oscar quotes of all time by award-winning actresses

When she won her first Oscar in 2000 for Boys Don’t Cry, Hilary Swank thanked her mum (amongst others) and said, “it looks like living out of our car was worth it”. She acknowledged her humble beginnings again the second time round.

“I don’t know what I did in this life to deserve all this. I’m just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream. I never thought this would ever happen, let alone be nominated. And a working actor, for that matter. And now, this. I thank the Academy. I am eternally grateful for this great honour.” – Hillary Swank, Best Actress for Million Dollar Baby in 2005


12. Reese Witherspoon

The most inspiring Oscar quotes of all time by award-winning actresses

Reese Witherspoon brought to light the importance of supportive parents.

“I’m so blessed to have my family here tonight. My mother and my father are here. And I just want to say thank you so much for everything, for being so proud of me. It didn’t matter if I was making my bed or making a movie. They never hesitated to say how proud they were of me, and that means so very much to a child. So, thank you, mom and dad.”

Reese Witherspoon, Best Actress for Walk The Line in 2006


13. Shirley MacLaine

The most inspiring Oscar quotes of all time by award-winning actresses

Screen legend Shirley MacLaine stressed the importance of believing in yourself.

“Films and life are like clay waiting for us to mould it…God bless that potential that we all have for making anything possible if we think we deserve it. I deserve this. Thank you.”

Shirley MacLaine, Best Actress for Terms of Endearment in 1983