Robert De Niro is by far one of my favorite actors. Since his first brilliant performance as Johnny Boy Civello in Mean Streets, De Niro has been one of America's greatest thespians.
The 71-year-old icon was recently invited to give a commencement speech to the 2015 class at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and delivered a heavy dose of reality to students. "Tisch graduates, you made it," he began. Then, with a pause, he continued: "And, you're f*cked."
The actor splashed his humor throughout the entire speech, but his underlying message was simple. He told the graduates, "On this day of triumphantly graduating, a new door is opening for you: a door to a lifetime of rejection. It's inevitable. It's what graduates call the real world."
Graduation speeches could often get boring. A lot of schools choose speakers who are unlikely to encourage, inspire, or provide advice that will be remembered after the post-graduation parties. I remember my own college graduation. The speaker was some former dean and politician whose speech was boring as hell. Just when you think you're done with lectures, here's some old dude talking to you about how to run your life.
But some still do it right: short, entertaining, memorable, inspiring.
"Rejection might sting, but my feeling is that often, it has very little to do with you," De Niro added. "When you’re auditioning or pitching, the director or producer or investor may have someone different in mind, that’s just how it is."