10 years. Here we are. It’s intimidating to look forward while analyzing what brought you here. At 33 years old, being a husband, father of two, and helming a machine that continues to evolve on a daily basis, I can choose to use this historic anniversary of Awards Circuit to be as honest and raw with the readers as I can be. You can’t understand where you’re going without understanding where you came from.
Johnny Alba, the founder of The Oscar Igloo, was someone that gave a shot to a 19-year-old kid who liked movies a whole lot but didn’t really know where to put that admiration for the art. He demonstrated how to motivate a team, encourage a discipline for writing, and aim higher than what you think you are capable. For three years, I was under the thumb of a leader who had no physical interaction with his team yet we felt like he was with us every step of the way.
When Johnny mentioned to the then Oscar Igloo team that he wanted to close the doors in order to move back to his native country Portugal, initially I was a bit sad that this brief ride would be coming to an end. Johnny then asked the team if anyone was interested in taking over and without REALLY thinking about it, I sent an e-mail expressing interest. That’s been an often occurrence in my life. I jump to raise my hand for something without really considering if I have the time, skill, or energy. It’s been both a curse and strength in my personal and professional life.
To tell you where I was at the age of 22-23 is to open the door to a dark time. It sounds like rose petals and movie watching heaven based on the way I speak about it but to tell you all that I felt lost is an understatement. My time in college was so complicated, from assessing my personal relationships with both family, friends, and having a bout with depression that still plagues me to this day. At the time, I was a high school teacher, and I’ll admit, not a very good one. I was so conflicted about how I felt about myself, that I didn’t know how to be this made up, adult version of what I was supposed to be. To be honest, I didn’t know how to any version of myself that was acceptable to people. I knew how to be funny and a jokester to those around me without revealing the inner turmoil that bubbled underneath. To go one step further, I didn’t know what was supposed to be my own definition of being a man. In this era of women finding their voice in the #MeToo movement, and please understand I am NOT comparing the plight and mistreatment of women to my own tribulations, but I find the comparison in locating your own voice and affirming it for the world.
Media and society have created the construction of being a man and defined it as a simple rugged, leadership role that never shows an inkling of weakness. Cross-examine this with what I found myself being my entire life, and you don’t see too many matchups. I’m sensitive, perhaps too much sometimes. My feelings are hurt easily and I don’t know how to cope with them in a healthy manner. I never had a conventional upbringing with two parents in the household. I struggled with the relationships of both of my parents, siblings, and often looked for alternatives because I never felt like I “belonged” to them. I struggled with finances. I didn’t know how to save money, make wise purchases, and even looked for handouts when I could. This was not “being a man.” What’s worse than making poor decisions is recognizing and KNOWING that you are making them, and still continue to walk it with no hesitation or remorse.
Enter Awards Circuit on May 1, 2008. It’s kicked off and looks like this:
I knew nothing about website design, AP styling, colors, or just general symmetry and what is aesthetically pleasing. Johnny helped me the most he could but this was officially in my hands and I was driving…recklessly. Writers had to send me their works via e-mail and I had to edit them, paste them into a site, create a page, crop an image, and utilize Yahoo Site Builder to publish it. It doesn’t sound like a lot but if you wanted to update your Oscar Predictions in this manner, what now takes me about an hour, would normally take about 14 hours to do for 24 pages, and God forbid you made an error and had to go back in and correct it. Add another hour to fix the mistake or typo.
I had a lot to learn. Reading various online articles and doing things I wasn’t used to, which is I asked for help along the way. Guidance from others, making contacts through the industry, and just failing….until you get it right.
Fast forward through the years, light begins to peak through the darkness. I found that the site was doing better when I was doing better. I wish I could provide the definitive answer to anyone who has struggled with depression. I wish I could tell you I took this medicine and it helped me a ton. I wish I could tell you, I went to this doctor and he or she really opened my eyes. The best answer I can provide to you right now is time. Time can be both a blessing and a curse. At some point, you can make a decision to be better, do better, just be a better version than what you think you are. This is not suggesting that sadness is a choice, rather a condition that can be overcome with the right combination of support and love from those around you but more importantly, yourself. Find the light in your life. If it’s film, or if it’s reading, or if it’s simply talking to the old man at a local grocery store who talks your ear off about the neighborhood back in his day, you hone in on that piece of joy and determine to multiply it into a passion. Don’t let your passion(s) die. Don’t let the dream of YOU die. Readers, and I’m talking to ALL of you. Both casual and industry professionals. Don’t lose sight of yourself. Take a moment for yourself today to stop, and think about what you are doing and what you CAN be doing to make it better. You are much more than you give yourself credit. You are valuable to someone out there, and one day, and I PROMISE you, one day soon, there will be a calm feeling that will come over you and you’ll say to yourself, “I’m okay today.” That feeling doesn’t last forever. It’ll do battle with other thoughts that will enter from time to time but when the “OKAY DAY” comes, remember it, and put it somewhere that you can refer back to.
Awards Circuit has been a dream of mine for so many years. I didn’t realize in what form but I had a dream to have something that I could call mine and that would help people. It’s not just about reviewing a movie or TV show. It’s about giving an outlet to someone out there who doesn’t feel like they’re surrounded by people who understand them. I understand you, well, at least a small piece of you.
I am so proud of ME today. It takes a lot to say that. With that proudness, I have to immediately follow it with the “thank you’s.” But there are so many people to name and I don’t want people to just skim through this, hoping to see their names listed. Just know this, and I hope you sincerely know, that if you are reading this right now, I have appreciated and just thank you for everything you’ve done for me and I apologize if I’ve never said it enough.
With that, we look to the future. I love you all and I hope to see you around for the next 10 years (and beyond). To celebrate 10 years, we’re asking all our readers and followers to make a small donation to keep the site going. The donation is at the bottom of this page or the sidebar. We sincerely thank all of you.
Oscar Predictions are there for you all year round. The Circuit Center is continuing to build and be improved upon and we have countless other things coming in the future. Continue to walk with us on this journey. It’s been a true honor, I assure you.
With love and admiration for all of human kind,