The 90th Academy Awards ceremony was a glamorous, star-studded affair full of white dudes.

However, the winds of change are shifting. Its becoming abundantly clear the Academy, the film industry, and the country will no longer solely look to straight, cisgender, white men to lead the way. And that’s awesome.

Here are 12 standout moments from last nights Academy Awards that give me hope for a brighter, more diverse and inclusive future.


1. Jordan Peele won Best Original Screenplay for his horror masterpiece “Get Out.”

Hes the first black screenwriter to win the award. Yeah, first.

“I want to dedicate this to everyone who let me raise my voice,” he said in his acceptance speech.

2. Before presenting a montage of clips from war films, Cherokee actor and veteran Wes Studi addressed the audience in Cherokee language.

3. The award for Best Original Song went to “Remember Me,” from “Coco,” written by husband and wife duo Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.

With this being his second Academy Award win, Robert Lopez, a Filipino-American, is now the first person to ever win at least two Grammys, Emmys, Tonys, and Oscars — or as the kids say, the “Double EGOT.”

The couple accepts their Oscar for Best Original Song.  Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

4. “Coco” also took home the award for Best Animated Feature Film, and the acceptance speech was heartwarming.

Producer Darla K. Anderson thanked her wife and co-director Adrian Molina thanked his husband, which is always awesome to see on national TV.

And co-director Lee Unkrich took a minute to stress the importance of representation in film:

“With ‘Coco’ we tried to take a step forward toward a world where all children can grow up seeing characters in movies that look and talk and live like they do. Marginalized people deserve to feel like they belong. Representation matters.”

Adrian Molina, Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson. Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images.

5. James Ivory took home his first Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for “Call Me By Your Name.”

Ivory is openly gay, and at 89 years old, he’s now the oldest person to win an Oscar. He also wore the film’s star, Timothée Chalamet, on his shirt. Your fave could never.

6. “The Silent Child,” which tells the story of a deaf child who learns to communicate, won for Best Live Action Short Film.

The film’s writer and co-star, Rachel Shenton, promised Maisie Sly, the film’s 6-year-old deaf actress, that she would sign her acceptance speech if they won. Shenton fulfilled the promise, using British Sign Language (albeit slightly nervously) to accept the award.

7. Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o and nominee Kumail Nanjiani — immigrants from Kenya and Pakistan, respectively — showed their support for DREAMers.

“Like everyone in this room and everyone watching at home, we are dreamers. We grew up dreaming of one day working in the movies. Dreams are the foundation of Hollywood, and dreams are the foundation of America,” Nyong’o said.

GIF via The Academy Awards.

8. In the performance for their nominated song “Stand Up for Something” from the film “Marshall,” Andra Day and Common invited activists to join them on stage.

Common and Day personally invited each activist to participate in the performance. Guests on-stage included Bana Alabed (author and Syrian refugee), José Andrés (ThinkFoodGroup), Alice Brown Otter (Standing Rock Youth Council), Tarana Burke (Me Too), Patrisse Cullors (Black Lives Matter), Nicole Hockley (Sandy Hook Promise), Dolores Huerta (Dolores Huerta Foundation and the United Farm Workers of America), Janet Mock (#GirlsLikeUs), Cecile Richards (Planned Parenthood Action Fund), and Bryan Stevenson (Equal Justice Initiative).

From left: Cecile Richards, Nicole Hockley, Janet Mock, Tarana Burke, Bryan Stevenson, Common, Jose Andres, Bana Alabed, Andra Day, Patrisse Cullors, Dolores Huerta and Alice Brown Otter attend the Academy Awards. Photo by Matt Sayles/A.M.P.A.S via Getty Images.

9. Guadalajara, Mexico, native Guillermo del Toro took home his first Academy Award for Best Director for “The Shape of Water.”

The film later went on to win Best Picture. And del Toro checked the envelope just to be sure. (Can you blame him after last year?)

10. Daniela Vega, star of Best Foreign Language Film, “A Fantastic Woman,” became the Oscars’ first transgender presenter.

Vega introduced singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens to the stage to perform his nominated song, “Mystery of Love" from “Call Me By Your Name.”

11. Three of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers, actresses Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra, and Salma Hayek, delivered a moving speech about women reclaiming their time and space in the industry.

12. And I’d be remiss not to mention Frances McDormand, who won Best Actress for her role in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

Not only did McDormand have every single woman nominee in the room stand up and be recognized, she also taught all of us a very important phrase — inclusion rider.

Inclusion riders can cover not just the casting but the crew as well, opening up opportunities for marginalized people in all areas of the industry. It’s truly using your privilege and power for good. Brava!

So, yes, the Academy Awards were a glamorous, star-studded affair full of white dudes — but they won’t be for long.

Change is coming quicker and more aggressively than ever before. And it’s about time.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

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"Veteran" mom and "new" mom parent differently.

When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

But soon, reality sets in and if they have more kids, they'll probably be raised with a lot less attention. As a result, first-born kids turn out a bit differently than their younger siblings.

"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

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