Sunday, 7 February 2010

Taking A Risk for the Performance of Your Life

To achieve great success in life you must also be willing to risk failing – whatever failing may mean to you.

For some, failing is simply that they don't achieve the goal or target that they set out to achieve. Others equate failing with being humiliated or rejected.

Certainly Gabourey Sidibe, the star of the movie called Precious, risked the latter.

"I cut school, kind of on autopilot, to go to the audition, and within an hour of the audition, I got a call for the call-back. And within half an hour of the callback, I got a call saying the director [Lee Daniels] wanted to meet with me. We met the next day, and he offered me the part."

However, in the production of Precious, Gabourey Sidibe is not the only person to take a risk.

The film is based on the book called Push by Sapphire and the author was very reluctant to have her book brought to life in film. If you've ever read a book but were disappointed by the movie version I'm sure you understand. In this case, Sapphire was even more protective about her literary work because the subject matter was so sensitive.

"Once a movie happens, in particular a bad or exploitive movie then you have that vision of the character forever."

And while the book was a work of fiction it was based on fact. The type of abuse that Precious experienced is very real but it's so abhorrent that we turn a blind eye and hope that it will just go away. But of course it doesn't.

And so Lee Daniels had to prove himself worthy of bringing this book to the screen - a process that took him three years and ironically a movie called Monster's Ball that finally won Sapphire over.

Comedienne Mo'Nique took a risk in playing the role of Mary Jones, the mother of Clareece "Precious" Jones. And not just a professional risk. She had to risk not being liked in this role.

You may think that's no big deal but it's hard not to be liked. It goes against our very nature as human beings. There are numerous films where you can't help but like the villain but this was not one of those films. So Precious Director Lee Daniels prepared her for this by saying:

"Your character will not be redeemed, but she will be understood."

Mo'Nique was molested as a child and so this role could have been very traumatic for her. Instead it was liberating.

"I no longer want to be considered a victim of molestation. ...I want to be considered the victor."

To emerge from a film like this and feel so empowered you know that Mo'Nique had to have given the performance of her life. Her performance is raw, honest and "in-your-face" and so while there's no love lost for the character she played, her performance has earned her critical acclaim and it has already garnered her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

The diva Mariah Carey took a risk in playing the role of the social worker Ms Weiss. After all, when you spend most of your life being glamorous it can be hard to go without makeup that can accentuate, beautify but ultimately creates a mask behind which to hide.

"To look at Mariah [Carey] and see what she did with that film, it's like, wow! She really did it because she went past the Mariah we all know - with the hair and beautiful face. All of that Mariah stuff, it wasn't there. She got rid of herself! Wow, incredible."
Mary J Blige,

Director Lee Daniels took a risk with Gabourey Sidibe, after all she was untrained as an actress and she was to play the lead role in this both sensitive and shocking film. The success of the film to a large extent depended upon the credibility that this unseasoned actor could bring to the role.

But Daniels had spent months trying to find "Precious". He even hosted "Precious Camps" where 30 girls would work with an acting coach but even though many of them had actually experienced what Precious had endured they didn't fit the part.

However, when Lee Daniels saw "Gabby" as she is called audition he immediately knew that he had found what he'd been searching so long to find. And the thing is had she not "cut school" that day the world may never have known of this unlikely star.

However, the intriguing thing is that although the 'rewards' have been great for those involved in the movie Precious, I don't believe that not one of the 'characters' became involved with this project because they foresaw how successful this movie was going to be.

They had a far deeper motive - to bring a powerful story to life and, in so doing, highlight and help put an end to a scourge in our society.

And so, when you're are faced with new risks in your life, uncover your deeper motivation and you too may not only have the courage to take on the role that your risk demands of you, but you'll also be able to give the performance of your life.


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