March 17, 2021

My Personal Quest to Touch Each of the EGOT Awards

I may never win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, or Tony. But damn it, I will…

I may never win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, or Tony. But damn it, I will touch all the awards.

Frances McDormand with her best actress Oscar in 1997. Photo: Steve Starr / Corbis via Getty Images

I have never won an award in my adult life, nor do I expect to. The kinds of things I am exceptionally good at — eating pasta with red sauce, smoothing over an awkward conversational silence by commenting on how the furniture has a kind of je ne sais quoi — are not the kinds of things for which they give out awards. Everyone knows that the four main qualities that are award-worthy are pretending to be someone else while being filmed for movies, pretending to be someone else while being filmed for television, pretending to be someone else while on stage, and singing/songwriting.

This awards season, like every awards season past, I am once again not nominated for an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, or Tony. While I feel neither snubbed nor surprised, each awards season reminds me to recommit myself to a lifelong personal quest of mine: EGOT-ing, but where instead of winning the awards I just touch them. This is a quest that feels doable but challenging, and gives me a small sense of purpose in life.

I held it, gave a fake speech, and hastily put it down when I heard Tommy Lee Jones entering the premises.

So far, I’m halfway there. The first award I ever touched, believe or not, was Tommy Lee Jones’ Oscar. At the time, I assumed it was for No Country for Old Men, but it is only now that, upon a quick Wikipedia search, I realize it must have been for The Fugitive, his only Oscar win and a movie I’ve never seen. It was by accidental circumstance that I was in this award’s presence almost 10 years ago: I held it, gave a fake speech, and hastily put it down when I heard Tommy Lee Jones entering the premises. I have no proof of this, but it happened and you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

It was this event that set off my personal quest to EGOT by touching each of the awards, which I would engage in half-heartedly for the next decade, and probably for the rest of my life. If I could, at such an early age, already have touched an Oscar, what else could I do if I just set my mind to it? Touch an Emmy? Yes. Not to brag, but I’ve already touched three different Emmys in my life. The last time was at an Emmy Award-winning friend’s Halloween party in 2019, where a bunch of us — including two people dressed as CubeSmart and one person dressed as the Succession theme song — solemnly gathered around her Emmy and drunkenly poked at the tip of the golden angel’s wings.

But like some famed award winners who shall not be named, I’ve gotten halfway through EGOT-ing by nepotism and sheer chance, rather than through any talent or perseverance of my own. So last year, when I pitched this idea to Vice, where I worked at the time, I decided to start taking a more active role. I reached out to Grammy and Tony winners to see if they would lend me their awards to touch. Here is the request I sent out to Billie Eilish’s people:

I also emailed Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda’s people to see if he would help complete this dream of mine, pointing out that Miranda himself once said “being yourself” is “chasing wherever inspiration goes.” Understandably, neither Miranda nor Eilish responded to my requests. Then the pandemic hit and I — also understandably — got distracted and completely forgot about my own quest.

Until now. I just learned on Sunday that it was the Grammys (again?!) and then on Monday everyone started talking about the Oscars. What’s important about this is nothing, except that every year, as more people win more awards, the pool of metal statues out in the world for me to place in my own gnarled hands only increases. In the end, all those awards are simply plated gold statues, built to be shown off and held. So why not by me?

What I’m saying is, please feel free to reach out to me if you have a Grammy or Tony I could touch. What I’m also saying is, this is a story about hope — as vaccine distribution ramps up, and spring slowly spins our cold brown lands into lush green gardens, so too do our long-dormant dreams awaken. And so, like crocuses, my dream of touching each of the awards has reemerged.