Justin Paul Wins An Oscar — And Hails School Arts Programs

Justin Paul and his songwriting partner, Benj Pasek, won Oscars tonight for “City of Stars,” the signature song from “La La Land.” The lyricists were honored for another song — “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” — from the same film. So they had 40% of the category locked down.

The 2003 Staples High School graduate used part of his acceptance speech to give a shout-out to the importance of the arts for young people.

“I was educated in public schools, where arts and culture are valued,” Paul — a product of the Westport school system — said. At a time of pressure from STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) state requirements, as well as the possible elimination of the National Endowment of the Arts, Paul made sure to thank all the teachers who helped nurture him.

He did not mention them by name, but former Staples High School choral director Alice Lipson and current Staples Players directors David Roth and Kerry Long were enormous influences. So were Coleytown Middle School director Ben Frimmer, and Kevin Connors of Music Theatre of Connecticut.

Justin Paul at the Oscars.

Justin Paul at the Oscars.

Paul and Pasek’s Oscar is the latest in a string of awards for the young duo. Earlier this year, “City of Stars” earned a Golden Globe.

And that comes on the heels of the success of Broadway’s “Dear Evan Hansen,” for which they wrote the music and lyrics.

Congratulations Justin, from all your fans in Westport — this “town of stars.”

Justin Paul's Oscar acceptance speech.

Justin Paul’s Oscar acceptance speech.

10 responses to “Justin Paul Wins An Oscar — And Hails School Arts Programs

  1. It was great that he expressed his appreciation for the arts programs he was able to take part in here.

  2. Hedi Lieberman

    Great shout out!!!! Congratulations!!!!

  3. What a fine young man! Justin Paul is so very talented and humble and “we” (Westporters) should be extremely proud of this “hometown” boy.
    Justin spent many hours “jamming” in our basement with the “guys” ( our son, Drew at the drums) and was destined to go on to make noteworthy music of,his,own.
    Congrats to Justin (and his writing partner, Benj) and thank you for acknowledging “public school arts” in your acceptance speech.
    Continued success!!!!

  4. Justin Paul – CONGRATULATIONS and THANK YOU!!!
    Westport is very, very, proud!

  5. Thrilled for them!

  6. I am proud to have once been a part of the great traditions of Staples H.S. Congratulations to Justin Paul. You make us proud!

  7. It was awesome hearing him give notice to the Staples program! Well done!

  8. Terry Brannigan

    Now that’s kool

  9. Warmest congrations to Justin Paul, his writing partner Benj Pasek and the entire Paul family. Justin, we are so proud of you!!! How wonderful that in the excitement of the moment, you so passionately spoke to the importance of supporting the arts in public schools. xoxoxo

  10. This is truly wonderful and inspiring!