FOREST WHITAKER has said in several interviews that he has tried throughout his career not to get caught up in awards buzz -- it's too depressing when you lose. But Whitaker has no more reason to be disappointed.
"It is possible for a kid from East Texas raised in South Central L.A. to believe in his dreams," the 45-year-old actor said.
Reading from a prepared speech, Whitaker thanked God for "giving me this moment in this lifetime that I will hopefully carry to the end of my lifetime into the next lifetime."
The versatile actor nabbed the best actor Oscar for what many have called the role of a lifetime -- playing Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland." The actor had been a front-runner in the category, having scored a Golden Globe and best actor honors from the Screen Actors Guild and the National Board of Review.
Whitaker topped sentimental favorite Peter O'Toole, nominated for "Venus." O'Toole was presented with an honorary Oscar in 2003, but has never won the acting trophy for any of his films, including "The Lion in Winter" and "Lawrence of Arabia."
The win capped a notable year for Whitaker, who has won accolades for several films, including "Bird," "The Crying Game," "Panic Room" and "The Color of Money." In addition to his Oscar, he scored juicy multi-episode TV guest stints on "The Shield" and "ER"
He surprised many with his comic and singing stylings during his hosting duties on "Saturday Night Live" earlier this month. Whitaker is scheduled to reprise his role as an internal affairs investigator on "The Shield" later this year.
-- Sheigh Crabtree