As I have done every spring since I was a kid, I hunkered down with my family to watch The Oscars a few weeks back. Always interesting, the 2014 event featured three nominees whose personal stories should serve as an inspiration to creatives of every stripe.
As you consider their stories, think about the obstacles, real or perceived, that you contend with in your own journey as a storyteller. Are you struggling to make ends meet while pursuing your passion? Have you been toiling away at your craft but not yet achieved a breakaway success? Are you considered too young or too different to produce quality work? If so, let these three talented people provide some inspiration. If they can “break out”, so can you.
Let us start with Barkhad Abdi. What is remarkable about Abdi’s nomination is that Captain Phillips was his first film. He had never acted before. Abdi answered an open casting call and got the part. When he was nominated for an Oscar, he moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting. In the run up to the Oscars, he relied on the studio for room and board and a friend to get him to meetings.
While “give it a shot, you never know” is part of Barkhad Abdi’s story, it is not the most important part. The best lesson is the fact that once the opportunity presented itself, he made the most of it. He took a chance. It paid off. Now, he is working to further capitalize on it.
June Squibb has been acting in film and television since 1990. Before that, she was a stage actress. While she was in some high profile shows, Squibb’s work had never been recognized in any way near the Oscar nod she received for Nebraska. At the age of 85, after a long career, she found her defining role and she applied all of that experience to it.
Squibb’s story is a lesson in longevity. She loved her craft and pursued though she received no significant accolades for much of her career. When asked about her nomination, Squibb said: “It’s funny, I’m like an old war horse. I just want to get in there and work again.”
June Squibb loves her craft. She packed a lunch pail every day, did the work and, eventually, the accolades came her way.