A few days ago on Facebook, Fr. James Martin mentioned attending the Christopher Awards, which honored his most recent book, along with The King’s Speech, Toy Story 3 and many other great books, films and tv shows. He wrote,
“Back from the Christopher Awards. The screenwriter and director of ‘The King’s Speech’ accepted their awards in person: very classy. If I ever send a publicist to collect an award, punch me.”
I agree. If an organization is taking the trouble to recognize your work, have the grace to accept the award humbly, and the class to do it in person, if you can. In this case, the director and writer of The Kings Speech literally can call the world their oyster — even in May — and yet they did not think themselves too big or too grand; they didn’t phone in the receipt of another, less “glamorous” award. That says a lot about them!
Academy Award winners Tom Hooper, the director, and David Seidler, the writer, accepted the award. Neither was surrounded by battalions of handlers. I didn’t see any. Seidler was there toward the beginning of the cocktail reception prior to the ceremony and although deep in conversation with another guest, he happily and cheerfully joined several group photos when we asked him to.
And both men stayed for the entire ceremony. I have attended and produced countless events where the “very important” dash out the second their bit is over. With some exceptions [such as when a Mayor must attend a funeral or other unexpected emergency], this conduct for an event they’ve known about usually for months reminds me of the restaurant scenes in vintage films where a businessman or celebrity wannabe tips the maitre d’ to bring the telephone over to their table in the middle of a meal to show how in demand they are.
What I especially like about these awards, which do not get much publicity, is that the category winners do not make speeches. The only two to make speeches are the “special” award winners, whose lives tell real-life, real-time stories of heroism. This year the much-celebrated, often famous prize winners were addressed by Shannon Hickey — the 21 year-old Foundress of Mychal’s Message and recipient of the James Keller Award in recognition of her ministry to the homeless — and Christopher Leadership Award winner Captain Scotty Smiley — the U.S. Army’s first blind active-duty officer and the current commander of the Warrior Transition Unit for ailing or wounded soldiers at West Point.
Hickey left the sometimes famous, sometimes elite attendees weeping, and Smiley had them on their feet, cheering. Not too shabby, for everyday sorts of heroes, no?
Speaking of grounded and sane, do check out my featured piece on the Christopher Awards which contains pictures of Hickey and Smiley, and quotes from some prize-winners who will be familiar to you. It also features a brief interview with The Christophers own Tony Rossi, who gives background on the organization and the awards.
The name The Christophers, [Rossi] admits, is sometimes confusing to people, “I’ve encountered those who think The Christophers are a religious order like the Franciscans or a family like the Flintstones. We’re neither. Everybody has the potential to be a Christopher because the word in Greek means ‘Christ-bearer.’ A [‘Christopher’ is] anyone who takes the principles and truths that Jesus shared in the gospels, and lives them in their home, workplace, church, the community and so forth.
Class tells. It always does, and always with discretion — because it is almost never about itself.
Currents was there to report on the Awards. Nicely done!