Robert De Niro was recently invited to give the graduation speech to the 2015 class at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts — a large audience that included photography students. What he had to say has caused quite a stir.
“Tisch graduates, you made it,” De Niro began. Then, with a pause, he continued: “And, you’re f**ked.”
Here’s a video of the entire 16-minute speech:
“When it comes to the arts, passion should always trump commonsense,” De Niro says. “You weren’t just following dreams, you were reaching for your destiny. You’re a dancer, a singer, a choreographer, musician, a filmmaker, a writer, a photographer, a director, a producer, an actor, an artist. Yeah, you’re f**ked.”
De Niro shared some thoughts on facing rejection in the arts world:
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 […] 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 something or someone different in mind. That’s just how it is.
He also offered some words on taking risks in the face of failure:
It’s difficult for me to come with advice for you who have already set upon your life’s work, but I can tell you some other things I tell my own children […] I tell them 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 be bold and go out there and take your chances.
“By the way, there will be times when your best isn’t your good enough,” the renowned actor says. “There can be many reasons for this, but as long as you give your best you’ll be OK.”