How chef José Andrés ended up on the Oscars stage with Common, Andra Day and a group of activists

There he was, house left, sharing the stage with Andra Day and Common as the artists performed “Stand Up for Something” from the film “Marshall.” Washington chef, restaurateur and disaster relief worker José Andrés apparently was the only one among the honored activists to carry an item on stage, which made him stand out from the pack, as if he were the Left Shark of the Academy Awards.

For the transfixing Oscar night performance, Common and Day had reached out to each activist, according to Variety magazine. Andrés said today that Common had tried to call him personally, but they could never connect because the chef was traveling so much. Yet once the Oscars opportunity was presented to him, Andrés said he was initially reluctant.

“I was thinking about not doing it,” he said. “I’m getting more recognition than I need or deserve.”

Andrés changed his mind because he figured his appearance might remind viewers that many Puerto Ricans, months after Hurricane Maria hit the island, continue to struggle. “We obviously need more and more reminders to everybody that this is never over,” he said.

Not that Andrés would be handed a megaphone during the broadcast. He and the other activists and justice warriors served as the song’s silent chorus, which explains why Andrés brought an object with him on stage. More on that in a moment.

Aside from Andrés, the activists were scheduled to include: Bana Alabed (the 8-year-old Syrian refugee who wrote about the war tearing her country apart); Alice Brown Otter (the teenager who protested the Dakota Access pipeline); Tarana Burke (founder of the Me Too movement); Patrisse Cullors (artist, author and co-founder of Black Lives Matter); Nicole Hockley (mother of a son who died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, she founded Sandy Hook Promise to prevent gun-related deaths); Dolores Huerta (co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America with Cesar Chavez and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation); Janet Mock (author and transgender rights activist); Cecile Richards (author and president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund); and Bryan Stevenson (director of the Equal Justice Initiative).