It’s real easy to get caught up in being the next who’s who, especially as an artist. It seems our work, our presence, our very being is compared to someone else. “With your voice, you could be the next James Earl Jones?” or “You look like Morris Chestnut!”
Now of course these are compliments, but how about be yourself?
“Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another,” wrote Voltaire, at the same time, Julian Schnabel claimed that “personalization is the only originality.” Though outwardly conflicting, if either is correct, then the path to success is not as complicated as we may think. Just be you, and/or borrow from the greats. Regardless, if being ourselves is original, then reinvention of prior success is without doubt its complement.
Do you see successful people in film, on stage, and on TV that look like you? Are they saying what you want to say to the world? Are they making people, laugh, cry, and think the way you would make them laugh, cry, and think? If they are, then it’s proof that there’s a market for you. If not, then there’s a market to be filled. Simple as that. Either way you look at it, your industry needs you and not just a carbon copy of someone who came before.
What do you love to do? What do you have to say? Go and do it, and go and say it. There may just be a market out there looking for exactly what you’re peddling.
So the next time someone says, “You could be the next <insert celebrity name here>,” say, “Thank you, but I’d rather be the first me.”