Common And Andra Day Shared The Stage With 10 Activists At The Oscars

"What we hoped to convey is the essence of this song."

For their performance at tonight's Academy Awards, Common and Andra Day shared the stage with a few very special guests: 10 activists from all walks of life who have all made a difference.

The two took to the stage to sing "Stand Up for Something" from Marshall — a tune written by Lonnie Lynn and Diane Warren — which was up for the Oscar for Best Original Song. "In American life, there are these people who abandon comfortable circumstances and take on issues that are bigger than ourselves," comedian Dave Chappelle introduced the segment. "And that is a thankless, thankless job to take on."


So when Common and Day began singing, they weren't alone. Behind them, 10 individuals were shown in spotlights representing those who are fighting to improve the world around us — individuals of all colors, genders, and ages who inspire others.

These activists include: Bana al-Abed (8-year-old author and Syrian refugee); José Andrés (ThinkFoodGroup); Tarana Burke (Me Too founder); Patrisse Cullors (Black Lives Matter co-founder); Nicole Hockley (founder and managing director Sandy Hook Promise); Dolores Huerta (Dolores Huerta Foundation, United Farm Workers of America); Janet Mock (#GirlsLikeUs); Alice Brown Otter (Standing Rock Youth Council); Cecile Richards (Planned Parenthood Action Fund); and Bryan Stevenson (Equal Justice Initiative).

By standing in these spots, the 10 individuals were both literally spotlighted as well as figuratively had their life's work spotlighted for the millions of people watching the awards show.

"What we hoped to convey is the essence of this song," Day told Variety ahead of the performance, with Common saying politics does have a place at the Academy Awards. "These are all people who have fought through their own personal pain to make things better for themselves and for others."

While "Stand Up for Something" ended up losing out to "Remember Me" from Coco — along with "Mighty River" from Mudbound, "Mystery of Love" from Call Me By Your Name, and "This Is Me" from The Greatest Showman — it was a beautiful moment for the Oscars to recognize the people whose work often goes unnoticed.

Cover image via REUTERS/Lucas Jackson.


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