What To Do When You’re Handed the Wrong Winning Envelope

Whoops. His/Her/Our/Their/SOMEbody's bad...
The second I saw a man in a headset behind La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz (BY THE WAY can we PLEASE pause and start a slow hand clap to applaud the GRACE that Jordan handled that handoff with?! 👏👏👏), I knew something was wrong. Very wrong.
In production, we never jump in the shot — with visible headsets, gear, equipment, etc. — unless it's an emergency. Lord knows we do everything we can to get that perfect shot, so if we're going to ruin it by jumping in, you can trust it's for a good reason.
Seconds later, my mouth dropped open and I froze - Jordan confirmed what I had speculated but didn't think could be possible: the wrong "best picture" had been announced at the Oscars. That one award, the last one to be announced, that everyone had been waiting for all night. The winner wasn't La La Land (whose entire cast and crew was on stage at this point): it was Moonlight.
Now three speeches in, the La La Land team was about to have their dream ripped away from them in front of millions, and would have to hand the win for the most coveted award in the film industry over to their competitor in the middle of their acceptance speech. My heart sank just thinking about what that must feel like. The confusion. The embarrassment. The oh-em-gee-this-can't-be-happening-is-this-some-kind-of-a-bad-dream feeling they must all have. For the record, I thought Moonlight was well-deserving; they took some major risks, had an outstanding, unbelievably talented cast and director and opened up the conversation about multiple topics and issues that are unfortunately still considered taboo. But still, the issue at hand: the wrong winner was announced. The wrong card was given to the hosts. The wrong people were on stage. 
When you think about it, we can all relate. There are moments in life when the spotlight is on us, and we've got to think quick during an unexpected, unbelievable or embarrassing moment. In many ways, we've all "had the wrong card" handed to us. But as Jordan Horowitz so gracefully demonstrated, it's how you handle that unwanted spotlight that matters most.
Here are 8 Things To Do If You're Handed the Wrong "Winning" Envelope: 
(and 8 Life Lessons we can all learn from Jordan Horowitz)
1. Spit the Truth
Clarity is everything. That moment, when Jordan [literally] showed us his hand with the card and the words "Moonlight"/"Best Picture" on it, was a major turning point in this "OMG" situation. He then went on to say "This is not a joke: Moonlight. Best Picture." We the [viewer] people needed a leader to step up and tell us straight up what the heck was going on, and he did just that. With all the commotion, confusion and craziness happening on stage, that moment of truth was so necessary. Way to own that moment and speak up, Jordan.
2. Do. Not. Panic. 
It's [usually] not the end of the world. Guess how much panicking helps the situation? None. Zero help. Makes it way worse. You can't think clearly when you're panicking. And then you make other people panic. Which makes everyone panic more. (Just #KeepCalmKeriOn #SeeWhatIDidThere?)
3. Keep It Together...EVEN IF YOU WANT TO SCREAM because millions of people are watching. 
You're a leader. You are. People are watching you. Ok maybe not millions of people, but there are definitely people who've got their eye on you. And the best thing you can do is make sure your actions and words are things you won't regret later...which leads me to:
4. Don't Accept Defeat
To the producer, Fred Berger, who [with much agitation] said "we lost by the way, but, you know..." on stage: newsflash - you didn't lose. You were nominated. You were part of, and completed an amazing movie. You're attending the Oscars, considered to be the highest achievement in filmmaking. These are all wins. You didn't lose. I challenge him, and you, to check yourself, and redefine your definitions of words like "lose", "win", "victory" and "success." Don't let your life "wins" require validation.
5. Go [off the stage] With Grace.
I still cannot believe how well Jordan Horowitz handed that trophy pass off. Reminds me of two teammates on a track team flawlessly passing the baton during a relay race. To quote his smooth, sincere transition, Horowitz said: "I'm going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight." Talk about lessons in grace. Well done, Jordan. Well, done.
6. Don't Leave Your Partner Hanging
Anybody seen Faye lately? Who noticed how it was Warren Beatty who took responsibility and explained what happened even though Faye Dunaway actually called out that La La Land had won? Faye was all like "cash me outside, how bout dat?!" Way to boss up and take one for the team, Warren. It's a big scary world stage out there, so don't underestimate the power of support. And if you mess up, fess up. We all do it. And respect those who own up to it, try to fix it and move forward.
7. Don't Let Embarrassment Kick You Off The Stage
If you're in the spotlight, make it count. Don't back down, speak truth and know that you are more than enough, no award necessary. You don't need an award to validate your movie, skills, talent, or dreams. And in the midst of an embarrassing, unbelievable moment, just know that you're not alone; we feel for you and we have no idea what we would have done in that situation, either.  
8. Stop All The Finger-Pointing
Ok. Let's be real. Did you really think Faye intentionally announced the wrong winner? That Warren Beatty switched the card on purpose? That they were trying to "cheat"? What on earth! You wouldn't believe some of the theories I've heard. No one — especially not two legends in the entertainment industry — would want to intentionally screw up an honor and announcement such as "best picture" at the Oscars. It wouldn't benefit anyone for them to do that. And no one wants to be a dream-killer in a city of dreamers. Mistakes Happen. For whatever reason, the wrong card [Emma Stone's lead actress card] was printed twice (check out a detailed explanation of how the switch happened here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/27/business/media/pwc-oscars-best-picture.html). Poor Warren sincerely tried to figure out what was happening with the world watching. He looked at the envelope twice. Even flipped that red envelope over to double-check and make sure there wasn't another card in there. He then handed the card to Faye Dunaway for, likely, a second opinion. My point is, this was not a one-person mistake. Blaming the host or even the card printers, a stage manager, etc. for this team mixup gets us nowhere. The "switch" or mistake clearly got through multiple people. Even after the wrong winner was announced, the graphics team, live announcer, etc.: everyone adjusted and went along with it. And if you've never worked in TV production before, trust me when I say that many people on that production team probably have not slept in weeks, have been missing meals, are stressed out and were doing everything they possibly could to produce and create a great show for everyone. This makes this a team mistake. A team error.
So whatever "team" you're on today: a production, engineering, writing, architecture, soccer team, a lead cashier at the grocery store: have each others' backs because you're only as strong as your weakest...card switch. 

4 thoughts on “What To Do When You’re Handed the Wrong Winning Envelope”

  1. That was sooo amazingly well said! Keri you are an extremely clever talented young woman with a bright writing future ahead of you even if you kick the doors down to make it happen!

  2. Faye got caught up, when asked about what went wrong, she blamed Warren. She should have read this article first!

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