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3 Lessons on Failure from Oscar Winning Actor Denzel Washington #motivation #king #life #lessons


Actor Denzel Washington says nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks.

In May 2011, he shared this message with the graduates of The University of Pennsylvania during a commencement speech. Washington also stresses risk-taking because “every failed experiment is one step closer to success,” as illustrated by this fine actor.

“If I’m going to fall, I don’t want to fall back on anything, except my faith. I want to fall… forward -- At least I figure that way I’ll see what I’m about to hit.”

Thanks to The University of Pennsylvania, a replay of Denzel Washington’s address to the Class of 2011 is viewable in video and text. After reading his speech a few times over and watching it online, I believe that the Penn graduates were very lucky to receive some wisdom from a man whose high-caliber offerings to the masses stretch far beyond his good looks. Here is my little cliff notes version of life lessons from Denzel Washington that can be put to good use, regardless of whether you hold a degree in any field or not.

Denzel Washington says that there are three reasons why it is important for you to take risks:


#1 “You will fail at some point in your life. Accept it. You will lose. You will embarrass yourself. You will suck at something. There is no doubt about it.”

Washington recalls auditioning for a Broadway musical despite the fact that he cannot sing and faced stiff competition among actors who had the vocal chops. He did the best he could with his rendition of “Just My Imagination” by The Temptations but did not land the role.

Rather than quit and fall backward, Washington continued to audition for parts and finally caught a break after failing again and again. In 2010, he won a Tony Award for Best Actor in Play, honoring his performance in the Broadway revival of August Wilson’s “Fences.” Interesting enough, “Fences” was showcased in the same theater where his first audition was a bust.

Denzel Washington’s takeaway: You may have the training and talent to succeed, but do you have the guts to fail?

#2 “If you don’t fail… you’re not even trying.”

Denzel Washington credits his wife for telling him “To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did” and references motivational speaker Les Brown’s analogy about ghosts around your deathbed, representing unfulfilled potential -- in an effort to remind you that the world needs your talents.

The Oscar winning actor wants you to give the world everything you’ve got -- time, talent, prayers, kindness, love, patience, etc. because you can’t take it with you - or- as Washington so cleverly put it: “You will never see a U-haul behind a hearse.”

Denzel Washington’s takeaway: What are you going to do with the gifts that you have?

#3 “Sometimes it’s the best way to figure out where you’re going.”

The “Safe House” star reminds us that life will never be a straight path, by explaining how he went from a pre-med student who could not pronounce one of his courses to a journalism major with failing grades in college before pursuing an acting career.

It is this change in direction that put Denzel Washington in a position to speak to millions of people through his films including “Philadelphia,” one of which he says illustrates exactly what he wants you all to understand. In the film, Washington plays a homophobic personal injury lawyer who takes on a wrongful termination case to defend an corporate attorney living with AIDS.

Watching “Philadelphia” will show you just how taking risks and being willing to fail is about more than getting a job, according to Washington. It’s about knowing what you know and what you don’t know, being open to people, ideas and new opinions; accepting new views -- being open to life.

Denzel Washington's Takeaway: While being willing to fail may be frightening, it is also rewarding because your life will be defined by the chances you take, people you meet, people you love and the faith that you have.


The Mission from Denzel Washington:
“Never be discouraged. Never hold back. Give everything you’ve got.”

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Parties, Playlists and Moving Pictures from A to Z #atozchallenge #amblogging #2012

Parties, Playlists and Moving Pictures, From Flickr, posted by Editor B aka Bart Everson:
Photo by Bart Everson, whose mom made this Rated-R birthday cake for his 17th Birthday!

On Friday, April 15, 2011, I showed you all what my movie collection pretty much looks like while sharing a list of my top 10 independent films. That post marked the 18th day of Arlee Bird’s 2011 Blogging from A to Z Challenge, an online event where participants blog daily for 26 days straight during the month of April, excluding Sundays. The catch is that each blog post has to coincide with a letter of the alphabet, so April 1st would be “A,” April 2nd would be “B” and so forth.

Today, if I showed any of you what my workspace looks like, complete with all notebook paper and index cards filled with unfinished screenplay outlines, character breakdowns and movie ideas, it would make my collection of DVDs and VHS tapes look like they were organized by June Cleaver (which it's clearly not) – that’s how messy I have allowed some of my most treasured blueprints for future works to become.

I have maybe two finished feature length screenplays, one partially completed first-draft of a short film script that is currently a work-in-progress and LOTS of movie treatments sitting around my apartment that have one thing in common, if any – they were all inspired in one way or another by songs that I have listened to on mixtapes, albums of my favorite artists or online radio stations such as Pandora and the now defunct Yahoo Launchcast.

Parties, Playlists and Moving Pictures

A combination of one old Mariah Carey tune with a popular R. Kelly song aided in my first draft of a short film about a delivery person who takes his attempts to provide customer service way too far – that one is laying somewhere in the notebook paper pile. As I gear up to participate in the 2012 Blogging from A to Z Challenge this year, winging it is not going to be part of the plan, at least for as much as I can help it.

This April, daily blogs at the Madlab Post are each based on a different song that has either been playing in my CD player, on the iPod touch that I no longer have or on my computer at one time or another.

Once upon a time, many of these songs may have also become part of one or several online playlists that I listen to when I’m writing, blogging or working on a new script or video of some sort. In each blog post, these songs will accompany a party planning spin on movies that the tunes remind me of and what they both could represent in the grand scheme of things during this journey that we call life.

Think of it as "Quotes from Music Tribute Movies" meets "5 Harry Potter Cocktail Recipes for Ron Weasley Fans". As if all of this won’t keep my busy enough, I am tinkering with plans to create a video component to my A to Z schedule. The verdict is still out on that but I will post an update about it if anything changes between now and then.

In the meantime, those of you who might want to take on the task of posting something every day can sign up for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge between now and April 1st. The only difference this year is that the challenge will include one Sunday since the beginning of April falls on that day. The A to Z website is well worth checking out, even if you plan to sit this one out and just visit the blogs of A to Z participants….such as The Madlab Post, of course!

Just last month, I attended a masquerade party for my cousin's 30th birthday and that whole theme now reminds me of the costumes people wore in "Man in the Iron Mask" starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Have you ever been to or hosted any movie themed parties before?

If so, how did they turn out?

What would it take for you to want to RSVP for one today?

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Films that go "Ouch!" #monday #meme #netflix #blockbuster


As my worst month of the year so far continues, thanks to a sad weekend and the new discovery of not one but two pieces of malfunctioning electronics equipment, I’ve decided to keep in line with the spirit of last week’s “Stick Me” theme that Dale at Smurfin the Web served up. So, this week’s topic is “When It Hurts Too Much.”

Share on your blog or in the comments section, movies that cause pain in one way or another to the main characters and/or movies that are painful to watch. Also, make sure to visit the blogs of fellow Monday Movie Meme participants. Here are my selections for the “When It Hurts Too Much” theme.
*Disclaimer: this post may contain spoiler alerts where noted.

Films that Go Ouch6

The Bone Collector
Many unsuspecting characters had an up close and personal meeting with physical pain in this movie, which stars Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie and Queen Latifah. In “The Bone Collector,” a cop teams up with a forensics expert to solve crimes committed by a serial killer who goes around New York city kidnapping people, only to slice and dice them up later.

Films that Go Ouch5

The Dutchess*
Lots of emotional pain is at the center of Georgiana Spencer’s scandalous home life, where her husband, the Duke of Devonshire is sleeping with her best friend. That isn’t even the tip of the iceberg in this movie, where the Duke refuses to acknowledge their daughters and is livid with Georgiana who has not given birth to a son, for whom he can make his heir.

Georgiana finds solace in the arms of a politician named Charles but their affair is forbidden (gotta love the hypocrisy!) but the Duke. From living in an unwanted threesome at home to being forced to give up the child she had by the man who she truly loved, while still being expected to keep up appearances, Georgiana didn’t have it easy.

Films that Go Ouch7

The Tombs
The mental anguish that the main character of this short film experiences just builds scene by scene. “The Tombs” is about a man who spends three days in New York’s central booking system for a crime that he may not have even committed.

Films that Go Ouch4

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans*
A combination of physical and emotional pain plague the main characters of this action/fantasy movie. Their pain is the result of forbidden love between two different species, which causes an elder to go on a personal rampage. Lucien gets beaten and whipped while Sonja is forced to watch, before she is burned alive -- literally and figuratively by the very person who is supposed to protect her. As if that’s not enougg, Lucien is also forced to witness it all, bearing an unbearable burden of losing his family.

Now for the viewers point of view: here are films that while great, have been difficult for me to watch without being angry, depressed or sad....not necessarily in that order.

Films that Go Ouch3

The Battle of Algiers
Since there is nothing pretty about war, I am aware that the violence and torture in “The Battle of Algiers” is to be expected but watching it still makes me uncomfortable. I read about this movie while doing some research on a filming technique that I want to try, and then rented it from Netflix. The film is another one of those real-life tales, which makes it all the more sad. In this movie, an Algerian revolution is in play as the people of this country fight to gain independence from the French.

Films that Go Ouch2

Sometimes in April
Idris Elba stars in this movie about two brothers who unfortunately find themselves on opposites sides of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. I’m glad that I didn’t dismiss “Sometimes in April” when a friend recommended that I watch it but find it to be among the most violently gruesome of films based on real life. Much like the violent acts in “The Battle of Algiers,” people do some disgusting things in “Sometimes in April.” It’s a real shame and insult to our humanity.

While it’s one of those made-for-television movies, many people who are familiar with this HBO flick believe that it provides a much better account of the tragedies that ensued during that time, than “Hotel Rwanda” starring Don Cheadle did. Having watched both films (...and I wasn’t interested in watching “Hotel Rwanda” either but my grandmother insisted that I check it out), I’m partial to the overall consensus of Elba’s film doing a better job than Cheadle’s movie, but are still just as moving and just as painful to watch. They definitely aren’t something that makes you want to pop a bowl of popcorn and get down with on a weekend night.

Films that Go Ouch

I Am Sam
My cousin told me that this movie, starring Sean Penn and Dakota Fanning, is so good that it will make me cry. After all, she was a grown 30-something mother who cried AND her eldest son broke down in tears during the film. Still, I didn’t believe her and had little interest in watching “I Am Sam” but low and behold -- there I was at her house one day, where she played this movie on DVD. Needless to say, yes, I did get teary but was not balling my eyes out as much as she predicted.

What are the most painful movies that YOU remember?

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