Who You Know

March 7, 2012

Meryl Streep, one of the most celebrated actresses in cinema history, has a daughter who is, guess what? An actress! Mamie Gummer is following in Meryl’s footsteps with starring roles in ABC’s Off The Map, and the award-winning CBS series The Good Wife. Eva Amurri, a young actress who’s constantly working in film and television, is the daughter of renowned superstar, Susan Sarandon. Scott Caan, the Hawaii Five-O star and Entourage regular, is the son of Godfather alum James Caan. Indeed, if you trace the genealogy of many of today’s stars you come to find there is a good bit of nepotism going on in Hollywood. George Clooney was preceded in show business by his aunt, Rosemary Clooney; and Willow Smith, adorable daughter of the ubiquitous Will is already carving out a career of her own at the ripe, old age of nine.

So what does all this nepotism mean to the everyday actor waiting tables, doing odd jobs, working non stop for a break in a who-you-know-business?  It doesn’t mean squat. For every actor who was helped along the way through powerful contacts, there are a hundred more who came out of nowhere to achieve A-list stardom. Leonardo DiCaprio grew up in poverty amidst drug dealers and prostitutes only to star in the biggest box office film of all time. “I’m the king of the world!” Jim Carry worked full time in a factory before he moved to Hollywood at the age of 16; he was paid $20 million for The Cable Guy alone. Demi Moore grew up in an abusive household with an alcoholic father only to become the first actress to reach the $10 million salary mark.

Indeed, eventually, it is not who you know, but how bad you want it. Because these stars who go from rags to riches, they are heat-seeking missiles. They make up their minds that nothing will get in their way–and nothing does. Danny DeVito is not necessarily the first thing you think of when you think Hollywood movie star. That didn’t deter him for a second. Danny has been working steadily for the last 30 years. At one point in his life, Mark Wahlberg sold drugs and spent time in prison; he is now one of the highest paid actors in the business.

Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t make it because you don’t have the contacts. If it’s contacts that are needed, then make your own contacts. If it’s names they are requiring, then become a name. If you need money to succeed, then go out and earn the cash. As they say, “All roads lead to Rome.” See you there!