Forest Whitaker advises soon-to-be Oscar nominees, 'Take it in'

forest-whitaker-freedom-awards-2010-gi.jpg Forest Whitaker clearly remembers the days just before he became an Oscar nominee.

Colin Firth ( "The King's Speech"), James Franco ( "127 Hours") and other likely candidates are in that place now, before the contenders for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards are announced Tuesday (Jan. 25). Whitaker went on to win the 2007 Best Actor honor as Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland," and his whole Oscar journey was "a new kind of experience for me," he tells Zap2it.

"I was sort of used as an engine to market the film. It was a word-of-mouth film for the studio (Fox Searchlight), so I was out there a lot, trying to get people to go see it. There were a lot of emotional, exhilarating and beautiful moments and times as we went along and the film was lauded, and I'm proud of the film. I worked really hard."

The Oscar nomination and victory surely were among the biggest payoffs for the soft-spoken but powerful Whitaker, who also directed the movies "Waiting to Exhale" and "Hope Floats." He advises this year's potential nominees, "Make sure you stay present and take it in. Just take in the moment, because you never know whether you're going to win or not. You want to allow yourself to enjoy the energy around it and the memory of it."

Whitaker will star in the CBS spinoff "Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior" when it premieres Wednesday, Feb. 16, and he's also a producer of two television-connected entries in the Sundance Film Festival that begins Thursday (Jan. 20).

The Peabody Award-winning Sundance Channel series "Brick City" starts its second on-air season of profiling Newark, N.J., on Sunday, Jan. 30; and "Serving Life" is an upcoming show about the Angolan prison system for Oprah Winfrey's OWN network.

"I create in a lot of different areas," confirms Whitaker, who says his talks with the producers of "Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior" support that. "They've assured me that I'll be able to continue to do other things. Maybe it'll only be one project a year, but while I'm working hard on the show, I'm also working with my staff to be able to make certain other things happen."
Photo/Video credit: Getty Images
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