Robert De Niro is a great artist. He’s spent his career delivering performances of power and truth, creating one of the most extraordinary bodies of work of all time. And like all great artists, he helps us to make sense of our own experiences. His speech to liberal arts graduates is no different. It’s re-assuring and strengthening in fact, that someone of De Niro’s stature can articulate so acutely the scenario faced by so many young actors and artists.
Not being able to resist your passion for the work is incomprehensible to anyone who lacks that passion – it can sometimes be incomprehensible to ourselves. What is important is that we continue to work and improve. And the fact that we start our careers from an almost impossible position means that we must find a way.
I hope you watch the video but if not, I’ve pasted an extract below.
“The graduates in accounting? They all have jobs,” … “Where does that leave you? Envious of those accountants? I doubt it. They had a choice. Maybe they were passionate about accounting but I think it’s more likely that they used reason and logic and common sense to reach for a career that could give them the expectation of success and stability. Reason, logic, common sense at the Tisch School of Arts? Are you kidding me? But you didn’t have that choice, did you? 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” .
“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 a dancer, a singer, a choreographer, a musician, a filmmaker, a writer, a photographer, a director, a producer, an actor, an artist. Yeah, you’re f***ed. The good news is that that’s not a bad place to start.”