Robert De Niro gives a comedic, hilarious, yet highly inspiring and assertive commencement speech on following passion, being bold, doing your best, and not taking rejection personally. His mantra, for every rejection, "NEXT!"
Here's various snippets of the majority of the intriguing and compelling speech by Robert De Niro at Tisch School of Arts:
"You discovered a talent, developed an ambition and recognized your passion. When you feel that, you can't fight it — you just go with it," he explained. "When it comes to the arts, passion should always trump common sense. You aren't just following dreams, you're reaching for your destiny. ... You're an artist — yeah, you're f—d. The good news is that's not a bad place to start."
"Now that you've made your choice — or, rather, succumbed to it — your path is clear. Not easy, but clear. You have to keep working, it's that simple. You got through Tisch, that's a big deal. Or, to put it another way, you got through Tisch? Big deal!"
"A new door is opening for you — a door to a lifetime of rejection. It's inevitable," he warned of post-graduate life. "How do you cope? I hear that Valium and Vicodin work! ... You don't want to block the pain too much. Without the pain, what would we talk about?"
"I can tell you some things that I tell my own children. First whatever you do, don't go to Tisch School of Arts, get an Accounting degree instead. Then I contradict myself, and as corny it sounds I tell them don't be afraid to fail, I urge them to take chances and keep an open mind, to welcome new experiences and to new ideas. I tell them that if you don't go you'll never know. You still have to be bold, and you still have to take chances."
"I tell them that if they go into the arts, I hope they find them a nurturing and challenging community of like-minded individuals, a place like Tisch."
"If the find themselves with the talent and a burning desire to be in the performing arts, when you collaborate you try to make everything better but you're not responsible for the entire project."
"Rejection might sting, but my feeling is that often, it has very little to do with you. When you're auditioning or pitching, the director or producer or investor may have someone different in mind, that's just how it is. That happened recently when I was auditioning for the role of Martin Luther King in Selma! Which was too bad because I could've played the hell out of that part — I felt it was written for me! But the director had something different in mind, and she was right. It seems the director is always right."
"You're not responsible for the entire job, but your part in it. ... You will put your everything into everything you do. You won't judge the characters you play, and you shouldn't be distracted by judgments on the works you're in. Whether you're working for Edward or Rico Fellini or Martin Scorsese, your commitment and your process will be the same. By the way, there will be times when your best isn't good enough. There can be many reasons for this, but as long as you give your best, it's okay. Did you get straight A's in school? If you did, good for you, congratulations. But in the real world, you'll never get straight A's again."
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