Advice To 25-Year-Olds About Hollywood by Bill Duke

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Bill Duke, actor, director, producer: I’m not mean, but when people come to me with excuses and stuff…I always say to them “Oh you have a lot of excuses. Life is hard, huh? Wow…hhmmm.”

Sometimes I tell them…”Come over here for a second.” I get in my car and I ride down the street. “Look to your left. Look to your right.” I say “Do you want that?” “Oh no!”

I say “That’s the point I’m making. I’m not suggesting it’s easier. You’re not suffering. But do you want that?”

I mean…ain’t got to look far you know. There’s suffering going on out here that’s…go down to 5th and Spring Street in  [downtown Los Angeles]. You will see children crawling in and out of dumpsters for food.

Film Courage: So what do you think people under 25 or 30 not understand about success in Hollywood? Maybe they think “Oh, I’ll never be that.” You know how everybody always thinks “I could never end up like that.” And sometimes it’s just a matter of bad circumstances piled up (one after another) to lead someone there and they think “Well, I have a safety net. That would never happen to me.” But the general 25 to 30-year-old with a degree.

Bill Duke: Dreams that are planned are called frustration. There are two things I would address it with, one is the God joke. Do you know the God joke?


Bill Duke: My 40-Year Career on Screen and behind the Camera by Bill Duke


Film Courage: Tell God your plans…or is that John Lennon [quote: Life is what happens while you’re making other plans].

Watch here on Youtube

Bill Duke: No…that’s the God joke. Make God laugh, tell him your plans. And one thing I find with the younger generation now, a minister that is a friend of mine told me, he said “Bill, one day I stood up in church and I said to my congregation “Everybody who wants to go to heaven, stand up and sing Hallelujah!” A whole couch of 1,500 people got up and shouted for five to ten minutes. He had to calm them down. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Okay. Okay. Okay.” He said “My second question is, everyone who wants to die stand up and sing Hallelujah!” Everybody sat down.

So I’ve got my third question “How and the hell are you going to go to heaven if you don’t die? See everybody wants to go to heaven, but don’t no damn body want to die.” And dying is what Hollywood is about. How do you resurrect yourself after you are smashed a couple of thousand times? Do you buy a violin and play the self-pity moments of how unfair everything is and how great your are and how mean they are and that could go on for 30 years, 40 years.

Bill Duke directing Lou Diamond Phillips in CREATED EQUAL

Or do you take the initiative to do something that changes that? There are only one of two choices, giving up or moving ahead. A lot of folks…and these are people who’ve been in the business 20 years and I talk to them “Well, you know how hard it is. These damn agents and these studios  and networks and…” “Really? You’ve heard of the Internet?” “Yeah, but that doesn’t…” You’ve done a webisode? Podcast?” “No” “Why?” “I don’t know how?” “Well you better learn.” “That’s too hard.” But you expect the result but you’re doing the same thing, that’s called insanity…(Watch the video on Youtube here).


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