Happy Birthday George.
Do you know how hard it is to find a picture of George Clooney looking like a failure or ‘thumped’, as he described it in his Parade magazine interview (Thanks Dad)? Here are some highlights on failure…
- “It’s hard when you get thumped. I’ve been proficient in failure. But the only thing you can do is say, ‘Here’s what I won’t do next time.’ I was a baseball player in school. I had a good arm, I could catch anything, but I was having trouble hitting. I would be like, ‘I wonder if I’ll hit it; just let me hit the ball.’ And I went away for the fall, learned how to hit, and by my sophomore year I’d come to the plate and think, ‘I wonder where I want to hit the ball, to the left or right?’ Just that little bit of skill and confidence changed everything. Well, I had to treat acting like that. I had to stop going to auditions thinking, ‘Oh, I hope they like me.’ I had to go in thinking I was the answer to their problem. You could feel the difference in the room immediately. The greatest lesson I learned was the sometimes you have to fake it. And you have to be willing to fail.”
I think that performing arts is perhaps the profession where one has to have the most resilience to failure. Not only is it so prevalent with so much talent chasing so few opportunities, but it is also the very direct, frequent and personal nature of the failing. When some one in a company ‘fails’, there are always a complexity of factors that dull the pain, and mute the personal impact. It wasn’t just your failure, but the market turned, the risk didn’t pay, someone let you down, etc. But performers audition on a regular basis. Sometimes a couple of times a day. And it’s just them. On stage. Facing their audience of directors and producers. And after they have performed, they have either succeeded, or more often failed to impress enough. And there will is no one else or nothing else with which to share the burden. They didn’t want *you*. Perhaps this is why talent shows like X Factor and American Idol are so popular. Because they distil this battle with failure in a domain that is so intensely simple and human. Something we all struggle with, and performers. for their art. have to endure that bit more than most anyone.