What 'a lot of rejection' taught Oscar nominee Da'Vine Joy Randolph

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As Oscar nominee Da’Vine Joy Randolph continues to dominate award season, “The Holdovers” breakout star says she’s not taking “any of this for granted.”

“I feel very, very grateful to be in this position,” Randolph tells TODAY.com.

Randolph’s stunning portrayal of Mary Lamb, a cafeteria worker grieving her son’s death in the Vietnam War, is at the center of the award-winning film, which follows an unpopular New England prep school history teacher (Paul Giamatti) forced to chaperone a group of students left behind over Christmas break.

Prior to her BAFTA win for best supporting actress in the role, the “Rustin” star took time to reflect on her recent success, which include a Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award for best supporting actress. She's also up for a SAG Award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role.

Though she's humbled by the slew of accolades, Randolph says she's taking it all in stride.

“We don’t always get these opportunities,” she says, acknowledging that it’s been an uphill climb as a “minority.”

“It is not one plus one equals two. You could be at the top of your game and then the industry or the media … could decide that you’re not, and then you’re back at the bottom of the totem pole. It’s a very Chutes and Ladders type of thing, so you really have to love it — for all of it.

And that she does. Her love of her work has extended to numerous projects, including films like "The Angriest Man in Brooklyn," in which she starred opposite the late Robin Williams, "Dolemite Is My Name" starring legendary comedian Eddie Murphy, and "Rustin", which is led by fellow Oscar nominee Colman Domingo.

Da'Vine Joy Randolph  (Mike Marsland / WireImage)
Da'Vine Joy Randolph (Mike Marsland / WireImage)

Randolph's attitude towards Hollywood tends to be a bit reserved after nearly a decade of hard work mixed with “a lot of rejection.”

“It’s hard,” she says, opening up about what she’s learned on her journey. “You have to know who you are as a human being and what you want to get out of it. You determine what you want, not them determining for you.”

Randolph says once you come to terms with that imbalance, you can focus on creating “game plan.”

“All you can do is manifest and put things into action,” she says. “But at the end of the day, what’s for you is for you and what’s not — it’s not going to happen.”

So, what is Randolph’s game plan, exactly? The award-winning actor says she's always sought out roles in which she could be “authentic and honest and culturally correct.”

“That has been tantamount for me,” she explains. “I want it to be something where people can relate to, feel seen and connect with, and then also ... hopefully inspire other people to know that it’s possible.”

While “The Holdovers” star says “it means a lot” that viewers are “seeing the work and acknowledging it,” there’s even more satisfaction in having her close friends and industry peers cheer her on and show support.

“They show up and remind me of why I do this and why I’ve wanted to do this,” she says. “They’re crucial — without them I would not be able to stay in this because it’s hard. It’s challenging.”

Honorees Greta Lee, Andrew Scott, Charles Melton, America Ferrera, Lily Gladstone, and Da'Vine Joy Randolph  (Rebecca Sapp / Getty Images)
Honorees Greta Lee, Andrew Scott, Charles Melton, America Ferrera, Lily Gladstone, and Da'Vine Joy Randolph (Rebecca Sapp / Getty Images)

Ironically, Randolph’s group of “supportive” friends who are “checking in” and “making sure (she’s) OK” also include Oscar nominees who are vying for the same honor.

“In this journey of award season, Charles Melton and Bradley Cooper, Emily Blunt, America Ferrera have just been so kind and loving,” she says. “Danielle Brooks as well … It’s nice to go on this journey with them all together. Because no one can really understand it besides them.”

Now, as she gears up for Oscars night on Sunday, March 10, Randolph thinks of the heartfelt advice she'd want to tell herself as a young girl.

“I would tell myself (to) keep going, you know what you’re talking about,” she says. “Trust your gut and it will all make sense in the long run — but stay in the pursuit.”

This article was originally published on TODAY.com