Today, I had the privilege of meeting Mira Nair, an acclaimed filmmaker, who has directed films such as Amelia, The Namesake, Mississippi Masala, The Perez Family, Monsoon Wedding and many more. The cozy lecture took place in a conference room inside the Haas Library at Western Connecticut State University. I've been thinking about the lecture all week. I had a feeling I was going to take away some great words of wisdom and advice. I did.
I was asked to ask the first question to get the dialog with Mira flowing. I had no problem with that. I asked a two-part question, the first part was "How she defined success for herself?" My follow-up to that was, "Did success mean different things for female, writers, directors, and producers in Hollywood.
Mira graciously smiled and jumped into her response. She said, "To me, success is privilege of doing what I want to do." As she went into detail I felt a genuine sense of sincerity, her words rang true and came from the heart.
It wasn't your general elevator speech. I did submit my questions earlier in the week, so maybe she had a general idea and prepared some remarks, although I didn't notice her looking at notes. What I took away from her response to the second question was that Hollywood has a built in sexism lens that is very much a part of the studio system. It will forever be there and that you can't let it stop you.However, proceed with caution. According to Mira, one should be humble about what they don't know and speak proudly about what they do know.
Mira is a veteran independent filmmaker, 20 plus years and counting. She gave a lot of nuts and bolts advice that I found valuable in the short time I spent with her. She reminded the group that in order to succeed, one must cultivate their stamina to embrace rejection and with that rejection still have the will to persevere. Constant rejection can be a lot to handle, but time and time again I hear actors, writers, and directors who have received acclaim for their work say it's part of the process. I'm all about the process, cause I have to be.
I'm still freaking out about all the writing that I need to do this month, but Mira's words remind me that success is in doing what I want to do. I'm luckily to have that option and even when the crafts I love challenges me, I'm not ready to throw in the towel.
I just can't give up. Mira thanks for keeping my fire lit.