Ann Dowd is a 61-year-old working actor.  For thirty years she has played under the radar supporting roles in movies including Philadelphia, Marley & Me, Lorenzo’s Oil and Manchurian Candidate and television shows including Law & Order, NYPD Blue, The X-Files and Chicago Hope.  But she never received a prestigious award for her work.

Until last night.  She took home the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for the character she plays in the screen version of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.  She started her acceptance speech with, “Well, I think this is a dream…”

How many of us have slaved away at our dream, wondering if we should be going down that path at all?  Taking rejection and failure in stride, but sometimes second-guessing whether we will ever reach the top of the mountain?

The surprise on Ann’s face when her name was called reminds us that it happens when we least expect it.  We usually don’t see it coming because we have our nose to the grindstone and are taking action every day without keeping track of the little pieces that are coming together.

As singer Phillip Sweet once said, “Stay true to yourself, yet always be open to learn. Work hard, and never give up on your dreams, even when nobody else believes they can come true but you. These are not clichés but real tools you need no matter what you do in life to stay focused on your path.”

Work hard and dream on.  And have your speech ready because you never know when you will be called up on the stage of a lifetime.