One of the greatest moments in live television history took place during the MTV Video Music Awards when professional ex-girlfriend, Taylor Swift won the award for best music video. Kanye West, clearly overcome with feelings of solidarity toward the single ladies of America, hopped up on stage, grabbed the mic from an unsuspecting Swift, and proclaimed that Beyonce’s video was the best video of all time, and should have been the winner. Most of America, including our own president, thought this made Kanye West look like an arrogant jackass. And it did, because he is one. But that kind of self love, the idea that his own opinion was that important, is exactly what we love so much about him.
Now we’re not suggest you go grabbing mics out of people’s hands and interrupting them like some sort of drunken cousin at a wedding. But there are a few things you can learn from Kanye West.
1. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do what you want. West originally started out in the music business as a producer for Roc-A-Fella Records. While he was a great producer, his real desire was to be a rapper, but record executives didn’t take him seriously. Not only did they see him primarily as a producer, but he also didn’t fit the gangster rap image that was so popular at the time. After a number of record deals fell through, Roc-A-Fella reluctantly signed him as to prevent him from defecting to another label. His debut album, The College Dropout went on to be one of the greatest debut albums of all time, and was received with great critical acclaim. By being persistent, and doing things his own way, Kanye was met with unprecedented success. No one knows what you are capable of more than you do, so don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you will be anything less than successful. Those people don’t deserve a place in your life.
2. Be your #1 fan. Comedian Aziz Ansari has a number of true stories he tells about Kanye West. In one of them, Aziz goes over to Kanye’s house only to find him sitting on the couch listening to his own music. When Aziz asks Kanye if he is in fact listening to his ‘own music, in his own house, bopping his own head’ Kanye responds, “Yup. These beats are dope.” That is how you should feel about everything you do. So many actors I know talk about how they hate watching themselves on TV/Film. Well, you’d better to learn to love it, because if you don’t like to watch yourself, how are you supposed to convince any casting director, or studio exec that anyone else will? If you don’t have pride in your work, and can’t recognize your own talents and abilities, you can’t expect anyone else to.
3. If you’re going to do it, do it right. How long would it take you to design a couple pairs of jeans, hoodies, and a few t-shirts? An afternoon maybe? A couple weeks at most? Well if your name is Kanye West and you're designing a small capsule collection with French fashion Brand A.C.P, then the answer is two years. It may be another account of typical over the top Kanye West behavior, but the line completely sold out in Paris, and demand for the line managed to crash the brand’s website. You can argue that it was his celebrity that caused huge demand, but I’ve never seen another celebrity capsule collection cause that much of a frenzy. We must then accept that it is his consistent commitment to quality, and perfection in his work that told people, ‘this is the best damn t-shirt $120 can buy.’ You need to approach your work in the same way. If you’re going to do something do it right. No phoning it in, and no half-assing it. There may be plenty of talented actors out there, but if you are the one who is consistently prepared for auditions, and who is an absolute professional on set, it will set you apart from everyone else.
You don’t need to knock up a Kardashian in order to channel your inner Kanye West. You just need to be your own #1 fan, and truly believe in yourself and your ability to succeed as an actor. Or, as a wise friend once said, “If you don’t like your gross ass, why should I?”