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Life Movies Race, Class, Gender, Sexuality

Not to discount your hard work…

I confess—I love watching the E! True Hollywood Story. I love seeing the stories behind the stars and watching their rises to fame and fortune.

I am baffled by one thing, though. Why do they (either the stars themselves or their friends, family members, managers and agents) keep trying to make it sound as if the stars got to where they are today through hard work and talent alone? Yes, I understand they had to work hard. Yes, I understand a certain degree of talent is necessary to succeed. Still, do you really want to tell me good looks or connections had nothing to do with the road to success? Being the child of another famous actor didn’t open any doors, really? Having perfect bone structure and facial symmetry didn’t do anything for their careers?

Now, again, I’m not saying that you can just coast on your good looks and family connections or money. You have to do something. The acting won’t come by itself. The gigs won’t fall into your lap. But how many good-looking children of famous people are there who tried to break into Hollywood and couldn’t get an audition? I can’t imagine there are that many. There are, however, tens of thousands of ugly people who have no connections but who have talent and probably cannot get an audition.

I’m not going to lie. I’m a child of privilege. My parents both have advanced degrees. I grew up in a rich suburb with a more-than-adequate education system. I know that I’ve been offered a lot of advantages most other people don’t have. Have I had to work? Certainly. I did all my school work and earned the grades I got. And at all the jobs I’ve had I’ve worked as hard as I could. Still, I know that if I had come from a family of poor uneducated parents who didn’t speak English and who brought me up in a neighborhood with a failing school system, I’d have had a lot more obstacles to overcome.

So, folks—don’t lie about the roles of privilege, connections, and good looks in your career paths, especially you Hollywood folks. Yes, I know you’ve probably had to work hard, probably had to work damn hard. But so do many people. Some people work hard all their lives to make minimum wage with no health benefits. Those folks also have talents. Not to discount your hard work…