Nominated for 13 Oscars, she hasn’t won one yet — that’s a record
Diane Warren is the Susan Lucci of the Oscars.
Lucci, of course, played Erica Kane for the 40-plus year run of the daytime soap, “All My Children.” During that time, she received 21 Daytime Emmy lead actress nominations, and only one win — on her 19th try.
Warren, who was nominated for best song for “Somehow You Do.” has received 13 Oscar nominations — the most ever by a woman who has never won.
Warren said she thought it was “cool” to be compared to Lucci.
“She eventually won,” Warren said. “Check this out. My first nomination was 34 years ago, so I’m still in the game.”
“How cool is that? And the nomination really is the win, because there are only five songs chosen. They pick five songs and one of them was mine. I haven’t won the Oscar yet, but I’m hopeful. But you never know.”
Asked if she has practiced the face she will make if she wins, Warren throws a hand up in glee and puts on a 1,000 watt smile. She says she doesn’t need to rehearse how she’ll react if she loses.
“I have that one down pat,” she said. “I don’t need to practice it.”
Warren’s competition, which includes Billie Eilish, Beyoncé and Lin-Manuel Miranda, is stiff. Still, “Somehow You Do,” a song that yearns for hope and better times, is a strong contender.
It’s sung by Reba McEntire over the end credits of “Four Good Days,” a moving film based on a Washington Post story about a family struggling with addiction. Mila Kunis and Glenn Close star as a heroin addict and the mother who fights for her, even though she believes it a losing battle.
“Somehow You Do” is the latest in a long line of hits for Warren that began in 1982, when she wrote the lyrics for Laura Branigan’s “Solitaire.” She got her first Oscar nomination (with Albert Hammond) for “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now” from the film “Mannequin.”
All told she’s written nine #1 hits and 32 that cracked Billboard Magazine’s Top 10. She’s won a Grammy, an Emmy, two Golden Globes, three Billboard magazine Songwriter of the Year trophies and is an inductee in the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. She spoke to the Forward about her nomination and career:
You wrote “If I Could Take Back Time” for Cher at a time when her career was not flourishing. Is it true she didn’t want to do it?
She needed it. I had to beg her, get on my knees and hold her leg down to try it. Yeah, that’s a true story. I’m happy I did that. I’ve written lots of songs that people didn’t want to do. Toni Braxton didn’t want to do “Unbreak My Heart.” Sometimes you just got to try it. It’s like a jacket in a store. You may not like it on a hanger, but try it on.
What if you could turn back time? What would you do differently?
I wouldn’t do anything differently, because I think if you change one little thing you change everything. Everything I did, even if it was f—ked up or I didn’t do something the way I should have done it or something I wish I didn’t go through, you can’t change it because it’s like the butterfly effect and throws everything off.
I’m a little surprised by your answer. Wikipedia says you grew up alienated because you were Jewish.
I didn’t feel alienated growing up Jewish. I just felt alienated growing up. I felt alienated in general. I was a weird kid. I wasn’t one of the popular kids. I had my little weirdo friends. I was always the outsider, which is fine. I’m glad I was the outsider. I’m glad I’m still the outsider.
What was your Jewish life like growing up?
My parents weren’t super religious. For holidays, I’d go to my aunt, but I always felt Jewish.
How did your interest in songwriting begin?
I knew I wanted to be a songwriter from when I was a kid. My father brought me a little guitar when I was 10 or 11 and I just started making up songs. I got really obsessed about it and feel the same way years later.
Do you have any sense of how lucky you are? Many people go through their entire lives without finding their passion.
Yeah, I am so lucky, I knew what I wanted to do, and I worked hard to do it. Luckily I had the talent. You have to have the aptitude and the attitude and then the gratitude.
You grew up in the era of the singer-songwriter and the Troubadour, probably not far from where you grew up in LA. Who were your influences?
I grew up also in the era of Motown and the Beatles. That’s where my earliest musical influences were. I wasn’t influenced by the singer-songwriters, I was influenced by the radio, the Brill Building songwriters and the Beatles. The whole California thing didn’t influence me as much as the Brill Building.
Pretty much every story about you mentions that you are relationship phobic. Is that true?
The irony is there, because here I am writing these songs that people fall in love to and get married to, yet it’s not re-ally my thing. I don’t want to be in a relationship. I have my friends. I love my cat. I got to live it in every song I wrote and then it’s over and I’m in a new relationship with another song.
What’s your attitude going into the awards ceremony. Do you think you’ll win?
Last year I thought I had a chance for “Seen,” a song for a great Sophia Loren movie [“The Life Ahead”]. The Oscars were on my dad’s birthday and I thought that was a sign. But it’s kind of funny. People don’t remember what won, They remember the songs. And the song from last year is being recorded by everybody; it’s becoming a standard.
You’ve won so many major awards, but still, it would be nice to break the streak, wouldn’t it?
It would be nice to win finally, yes. I’m not gonna lie. It would be great. I would love it. Especially with this song. Wouldn’t that just be the best?