This year's best actor winner Forest Whitaker says he only got 20-30 minutes of sleep all night! His win for The Last King of Scotland is his first Academy Award ever—and despite all the hype about his performance, Forest says he wasn't sure he'd be taking home the top prize. "You never know what's going to happen," he says. His wife, Keisha, even prepared him for a loss. "Keisha kept saying, 'Well, if it doesn't happen, we're still going to go out to one party,'" he says.
In his speech, Forest took the time to thank his family, God and his ancestors, "who continue to guide my steps." Oprah says Forest had "one of the best speeches I've ever heard."
For Keisha, watching her husband win had special meaning. "I was so proud that he took his moment and he got it together and he said everything from his heart," she says. "I'm walking on the clouds. Just so happy and so proud."
Forest says winning the Oscar® is amazing, but he hasn't had a chance to let it sink in yet. "I think that I'm going to take it in over the next few days. I've been hoping to just get a moment to stay still and feel it," he says.
After being nominated two times before, Helen says she had to accept that there was a chance her name wouldn't be called—and then came the "absolutely indescribable moment."
"I was thinking, 'Here it comes, here it comes. Oh my God, here it comes.' And I had my earring in my hand because it was hurting me so much, so I was looking down at my earring going, 'Oh my God, here it comes. What's happening?'" she says. "And then [I heard] my name. And then you go, 'Oh my God. ... That was my name. Was it? Yes it was.'"
And the gown is just as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside. Helen says it was specially made for her, so she didn't have to wear a bra underneath it. "It held me like two angels' hands," she says.
Although there have been rumors that Helen is going to have tea with England's monarch, she says she doubts it. Helen doesn't even know if the queen has seen the film. "I don't think I ever will know. I'm sure she has, because who could resist, really?" she says.
After honing her skills for more than 20 years on the stand-up circuit and four successful seasons on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Ellen finally made her childhood dream come true during the 79th Annual Academy Awards.
"Everyone has different dreams," she says. "This is, to me, what I'm more natural at. Acting is great. ... [But] I like immediacy. I like the feel of interaction and the energy exchange that happens with an audience."
Just hours after the final curtain call, Ellen returns to the stage to reflect on her big night. From one talk show host to another, Oprah praises Ellen on her performance. "Great job," Oprah says. "You were so authentic. You were so yourself."
During the final dress rehearsal, the enormity of the night finally caught up with Ellen. She says she walked onto the stage and began to cry. "I was so emotional to walk out here," she says.
The day of the Oscars, Ellen says she managed to stay calm...until about 30 seconds before her opening monologue. Then, she says she started to worry that she'd draw a blank on live television. "I had to keep reminding myself to look at the prompter," she says. "A billion people were watching!"
Some of Ellen's jokes were planned ahead of time, but she came up with a few just seconds before she went on stage. "You don't know what's going to happen," she says. "You're hoping for a crazy moment so you can go out and say something about it."
Adding her name to the illustrious list of Oscar® hosts—which includes Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Billy Crystal, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart—is just one of the many things Ellen's thankful for.
"My life is crazy, scary good," she says. "I'm at that place where it's like, 'I can't get any more goodness in my life.' ... I feel blessed every second. I go to bed feeling blessed, and I wake up feeling blessed."
Jennifer took home the best supporting actress award for her powerful portrayal of Effie White—her very first film role! After a few hours of reflection, Jennifer says there are no words to describe how she's feeling. "I get so frustrated trying to put [the feeling] into words," she says. "There's so much you want to say."
Even though she's won many major awards this year, including a Golden Globe®, Jennifer says she didn't really think she'd win the Oscar. Moments before her name was called, she says she gave herself a pep talk. "[I told myself], 'You came this far. If you don't win it, it's okay,'" she says. "So when it was time to get up there and speak, I was like, 'Oh, my god. What do I say?'"
Not only did Jennifer win an Oscar, she also performed on the Kodak Theatre stage! Jennifer and her Dreamgirls co-stars, Beyoncé Knowles and Anika Noni Rose, sang a medley of songs from the film. "That was the icing on the cake," she says.
Over the summer, Jennifer says Jamie called her every week to talk about Oscar buzz. "He would let me know what was coming, how to prepare myself and how to enjoy it," she says.
Jamie wasn't the only one rooting for this rookie. On Oscar night, another well-known co-star told Gayle King how she felt about Jennifer's big win. "We're all so proud," Beyoncé said. "Jennifer just brought us all to tears."
Then, it's back to work! Jennifer says she'll start recording her first album soon. "I'm excited about that," she says. "I want to give it every bit of my all, just the same that I tried to do with Dreamgirls."
Jennifer is also looking forward to more memorable movie roles. "The only way that I can express how much [the Academy Award] means to me is try to show it through any further work that I do as an actress," she says.
Although Gayle originally planned to wear a red gown by Angel Sanchez to the ceremony, she changed into a silver Tadashi dress at the last minute amid fears of the red gown clashing with the curtains. "I thought, '[Angel] worked so hard for no one to see it,'" she says. So Gayle decided to show off her unworn gown on The Oprah Show.
Gayle says one of her favorite moments of the evening was Martin Scorsese's first Oscar win for directing The Departed—which also won best picture. "I thought that was one of the highlights because there was such love and admiration for him backstage. Everybody just poured out of all the rooms to hug and kiss him. It was very, very sweet," Gayle says.
Special thanks to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, president Sid Ganis, producer Laura Ziskin and director Louis Horvitz. Also, thanks to Architectural Digest for sharing its glamorous, eco-friendly green room, and Hollywood's Kodak Theatre, who teamed up with Swarovski Crystal this year to design the stage's 34-foot custom curtain, which is made from 50,000 crystals and is worth more than $1 million!
Without help from Sprint®, Oprah's After Oscar Party wouldn't have been possible!