Robert De Niro addressed graduates of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts on Friday and, if the graduates were hoping for an inspiring message from the veteran actor, they were in for a shock. Mr. De Niro laid out the cold, hard truth to graduates that included hopeful actors, dancers, writers, directors, photographers, and filmmakers.
Mr. De Niro compared the group to other graduates, doctors for example, who were leaving college with careers already lined up and waiting for them. “You’re f—ed.”
“You discovered a talent, developed an ambition and recognized your passion,” Robert said in his commencement speech. “When you feel that, you can’t fight it, you just go with it. When it comes to the arts, passion should always trump common sense. You aren’t just following dreams, you’re reaching for your destiny.”
The full-length video presentation of Robert De Niro’s commencement speech can be viewed here.
Mr. De Niro told the graduates that, now that their path has been chosen, the real work would begin. Robert told them to be prepared for a lifetime of hard work and rejection. De Niro wasn’t all somber and foreboding. He lightened the mood with the news that he felt the heartbreak of rejection himself, when he auditioned for the role of Martin Luther King in Selma.
Echoing what might be the thoughts of the graduating actors in the not-too-distant future, De Niro said that not getting the part “was too bad because I could’ve played the hell out of that part – I felt it was written for me. But the director had something different in mind, and you know she was right. It seems the director is always right.”
Mr. De Niro shared some more stories with the graduating class, the rest of the tales being true experiences from the Oscar winner‘s own past, before suggesting that “Next!” should be their motto, battle cry, and mantra all rolled into one.
“As long as you give your best, it’s okay.”
Robert De Niro closed his speech by sharing the same advice that he gives to his own six children.
“As corny as it sounds, I say, ‘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 go out there, be bold and go out there and take your chances.”
Robert De Niro will next be seen in the comedy The Intern, which co-stars Anne Hathaway, when it hits theaters on September 25.
[Featured image: Robert De Niro courtesy of Mary Altaffer/AP]