Anyone who has spent time about Hollywood wannabes (and yes, I once was just such a wannabe) knows that talent, hard work and determination do not necessarily yield success in this town.
Here, you see people work hard, hone their craft, invest their own money and receive little return. They may audition for countess roles and never get cast. They may write, rewrite and re-rewrite scripts only have production companies reject them having only read the log-line or the first few pages. They may raise their own funds and devote their own time to producing a movie, only to see it languish it film festivals — and never get a distribution deal.
And then you’ll see someone else, knowing the right people (or knowing the people who know the right people) or having the look — or the story — they’re looking for, move to town and find success in a matter of moments. It may not seem fair, but that’s just the way it is in a competitive business. Hard work here does not necessarily yield reward.
Perhaps, President Obama was thinking of the way things work in this part of the world when he remarked last Friday in Roanoke, Virginia that “there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there”:
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.
He’s right that every successful person received help along the way. There’s a reason the ancient Greeks honored Athena — and depicted her helping their heroes. They knew a man often required the assistance of others to accomplish his goals.
He is, however, wrong about who made things “happen.” Although most entrepreneurs received assistance as they built their enterprises, they did indeed build them. No one makes it own their own, that is, without the support of others. (And more often that support comes from the private sector, a venture capitalist, an encouraging friend or family member, a devoted mentor.)
In the end though, it is, by and large, an individual’s grit and determination which account for his success.
Far too often, in the entertainment industry, however, hard work alone often yields little reward. Such is the nature of a highly competitive field.Here you also need to have what they want and know those who in a position to ascertain those wants.
Mr. Obama may understand the way things work here in Hollywood, but he remains clueless as to the way things work in most other American industries.
Even Hollywood’s great projects, however, show the mark of individual genius., when you see a great movie — or witness a great screen performance — some individual made that happen. Some great actress found just the right way to realize a certain character. Some director put that whole project together.
Yes, they had help in realizing that character or making that movie, but in the end, the actress, the director “built” that role 0r made that movie. Neither was just some random player who happened to be in the right place at the right time. Each may have had assistance in achieving his success, but each did indeed make it happen.
NB: Tweaked and expanded this post since I first published it.