Ayo Edebiri Said 1 Thing Most Hollywood Winners Don't — And It Really Stood Out

Assistants run workplaces. Edebiri recognizes this — and so should you.
Ayo Edebiri won a Golden Globe for her role in "The Bear" and she shouted out assistants in her speech.
Gilbert Flores/Golden Globes 2024 via Getty Images
Ayo Edebiri won a Golden Globe for her role in "The Bear" and she shouted out assistants in her speech.

During Sunday’s Golden Globes Awards ceremony, Hollywood stars got accolades for their hard work, and many winners used their acceptance speech to thank their cast, crew, agents and families. But Ayo Edebiri, who won an award for her role in “The Bear,” stood out from other winners by taking a moment to specifically thank “all of my agents’ and managers’ assistants” during her acceptance speech.

“To the people who answer my emails, y’all are real ones,” Edebiri said, receiving applause from the crowd. “Thank you for answering my crazy, crazy emails.”

It was a brief but meaningful moment of recognition that matters. Similar to how Melanie Lynskey thanked her “angel” nanny after her Critics’ Choice win, it acknowledges the too-often unseen heroes who keep a workplace or a public figure’s life running smoothly. And for assistants and former assistants everywhere, it was a breakthrough moment.

Warner Bailey, a former assistant at the agency WME who runs the Instagram meme page Assistants vs. Agents, posted a clip of Edebiri’s speech and captioned it “MY LIFE IS COMPLETE.” Within minutes, Bailey said there were hundreds of comments from assistants that expressed feelings of “finally feeling seen and appreciated.”

“It was a cool moment, a classy thing to do, and I hope it’s the first of many,” Bailey told HuffPost. “One thing is for sure: Ayo Edebiri just won the hearts of every assistant out there.”

It’s not just people within Hollywood taking notice: Rowe Lapiña Hoffer, who is the senior executive assistant to the CEO of Mozilla, watched Edebiri’s speech live and loved that Edebiri’s shoutout did not seem like a platitude but a sincere appreciation.

“She didn’t make it sound as if we were ... secretaries. The way she made it sound was really that we were thoughtful partners to her,” Hoffer said.

Hoffer sees her job as a “gateway” more than as a gatekeeper for helping colleagues achieve success. She said that Edebiri’s words showed an acknowledgement of the delicate dance assistants do to make sure everyone is meeting at the most opportunistic time.

“The first thing I thought about was, wow, this woman actually recognized [that] without all those requests answered, and somebody pushing along her intent and her goal, there would have been a stop, or there would have been a delay, or there would have been someone missing, or whatever it was she was trying to gain for the success of everybody,” Hoffer said.

Assistants Deserve More Credit ― But They Rarely Get It

All of the assistants HuffPost talked with said a public shoutout is still not as common as it should be, but is greatly appreciated when it happens.

“Many view this role as a stepping stone, but there are a majority of us who view this as our life’s work and we love it,” said Lindsay Robinson, an executive assistant at LinkedIn. “Speeches like this will help show the value that we bring. I hope this is less of an anomaly.”

Assistants to powerful people in Hollywood and in C-suites have unique challenges. The median salary for an executive assistant is $65,980, although top annual wages were $101,600, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They frequently hear ridiculous requests with a straight face from people who assume they are personal assistants. Although some consider them gatekeepers, assistants say they agonize over how to get people on the calendar.

“It’s not a matter of just answering that question of ‘Can I meet with your director on Thursday?’ We weigh everything out,” Hoffer said. “It’s ‘Is this the right time for you to meet?’ ... I want everybody to have the best and most opportunistic time for the requests they’re making. And that requires a lot of intellect and almost ‘Spidey-sense.’”

And it can be a hard, lonely job even when it’s rewarding.

“We are doing all of the work to get people there, making sure they know when to be on set, in meetings, that glam shows up, and while that is our absolute pleasure, and our job, getting a public pat on the back is glorious,” Robinson said.

Being an assistant can be a discreet profession where the goal is to support and help others in the spotlight, but assistants want you to know they are leaders, too.

“This industry still has an image problem regarding how we are viewed,” Robinson said. “While we love the show ‘Mad Men,’ we have evolved tremendously and are foundations of businesses and brands now.”

“It’s more common for people to see the role of an executive assistant as someone who gets coffee and makes copies,” said Jeremy Burrows, executive assistant to the CEO of Capacity and author of book, “The Leader Assistant: Four Pillars of a Confident, Game-Changing Assistant.” “Assistants are chaos tamers, culture creators, operation experts, inefficiency disruptors, relationship builders, game changers, pulse takers, time benders, and fearless negotiators. To put it simply, assistants are leaders.“

Burrows said that in his own career, he has been memorably thanked by his CEO in public meetings as “This is Jeremy, my assistant. He’s the one who actually runs the company.”

“In my opinion, there’s no better way to say ‘thank you’ than that,” Burrows said.

In her acceptance speech, Edebiri said she is “very lucky to be an artist.” Burrows pointed that moment out as an example of how assistants can help professionals like Edebiri do what they do best.

“Assistants love to help others achieve their dreams. We lead our executives by managing their most valuable asset – their energy – so that they can spend more time doing things they love versus things that drain their energy,” Burrows said. “So trust us with those crazy emails. We got you.”


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