Ryan Gosling gives Debbie Reynolds the thank-you he never got to give in person.

"We watched 'Singin' in the Rain' every day for inspiration, and she was a truly unparalleled talent."

"La La Land," starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, is one of the year's most buzzed-about films.

Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images.

The film has all the flair and star power of a 21st-century Golden Globes favorite. A love story between an aspiring actor (Stone) and jazz pianist (Gosling) living in Los Angeles, "La La Land" puts a modern twist on the classic musical dramedies that defined past generations.


Though the late Debbie Reynolds wasn't involved with the film directly, it was her work more than 50 years ago that helped bring the magic of "La La Land" to life.

Photo by Donna Ward/Getty Images.

While accepting the Vanguard Award on behalf of the film at the Palm Springs International Film Festival on Jan. 2, 2017, Gosling credited Reynolds' "truly unparalleled talent" for inspiring the cast.

"I wish I could’ve said this [to her] in person, but I’d like to thank Debbie Reynolds for her wonderful career of work," Gosling said during his speech. "She was an inspiration to [the cast of 'La La Land'] every day. We watched 'Singin' in the Rain' every day for inspiration, and she was a truly unparalleled talent. So I thank her for all of that."

Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Palm Springs International Film Festival.

"Singin' in the Rain," which was released in 1952, has similarities to "La La Land."

The film, which starred Reynolds, Gene Kelly, and Donald O'Connor, followed performers living in 1920s Hollywood as the silent film industry transitioned to sound. Critics consider the film among the greatest musicals of all time.

Reynolds and Kelly in a promotional photo for "Singin' in the Rain." Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

Gosling's tribute to Reynolds was met with boisterous applause. Reynolds died on Dec. 28, 2016, at age 84.

Her death came just one day after her daughter, "Star Wars" legend Carrie Fisher, died after suffering a heart attack.

Reynolds (left) and Fisher. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

Gosling's speech touched on the timeless beauty of Reynolds' work and serves as a great lesson about the unsung power of inspiring others.

It's easy to feel like your work — or your love, or your generosity — goes unnoticed. Sometimes it's difficult to see how reaching a career milestone or doing a small favor for a friend makes an impact. But it does.

Not everyone gets honored in a speech about their work as a Hollywood legend or will have their Hollywood Walk of Fame star showered in flowers after their death. But each and every one of us makes choices that will stick with those around us in ways we'll never know.

Who will you inspire today?

Watch Gosling's acceptance speech below:

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

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The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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