Be ready for a lifetime of rejection: Robert De Niro to NYU graduates

  • PTI, New York
  • Updated: May 23, 2015 14:30 IST

Robert De Niro did not mince words during his blunt but charming commencement speech at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts where he told graduates to be ready for a "lifetime of rejection".

At the Madison Square Garden-set ceremony, the 71-year-old actor said those with degrees in nursing, dentistry, business, law and education all have a future of stability ahead of them but one that the crop of performers could not ever make, said the Hollywood Reporter.

"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," said De Niro while dropping an F-word.

"The good news is that's not a bad place to start," he added.

The actor said now that the young graduates had made their choice and thought they had a clear path ahead, they will face the real world.

"A new door is opening for you — a door to a lifetime of rejection. It's inevitable. 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?"

The revered actor revealed that he wanted to play Martin Luther King in Selma but the director did not think he was right for the part.

"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."

His other advice included helping the director, collaborating and being brave.

The actor said he told his children to get an accounting degree instead of opting for an acting school.

"Then I contradict myself, and as corny as it sounds, I say, Don't be afraid to fail. I urge them to take chances, to keep an open mind, to welcome new experiences and new ideas. I tell them that if you don't go, you'll never know. You just have to go out there, be bold and take your chances."

The actor said new graduates should shout for "Next" when they face rejection while advising to cultivate relationships. "I'm here to hand out my pictures and resumes to the directing and producing graduates!," he added.

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