Appreciating Opportunities - How La La Land reminds artists to maintain checks and balances

Awards season has kicked off, thanks to the resent Golden Globes ceremony in Hollywood on January 8th.  And many positive outcomes occurred: if you haven't already, click HERE to view the YouTube clip of Viola Davis honouring the brilliant Meryl Streep for the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award, and Meryl Streep reminded us all how important it is now more than ever for art to hold the world accountable for human behaviour. 

Additionally, recently released film, La La Land, was awarded seven statues including Best Performance by an Actor AND Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Screenplay.  These seven wins at the Golden Globes offer just a hint at how well this film may do at the upcoming Oscars.

Personally, I found the film to be quite entertaining – an homage to a time in Hollywood film history when musicals were being pumped out of MGM Studios probably as much as reproducing rabbits.  But what I enjoyed the most was the overall message about the creative dilemma and what we can learn from the main character’s story.

La La Land tells the story of struggling artists who move to the land of make-believe (Hollywood) in order to pursue their dreams of stardom only to face long periods of rejection and heartbreak.  It also throws into the plot of a love story between Gosling and Stone’s characters who support one another’s successes.  But what is the measure of success?  Is it possible to find the balance between earning a paycheck from actually doing what you love to do, or is it more rewarding to struggle for your passion in order to fulfil your complete dream?

In a very brief moment, the film presents the answer to these questions, and I’ so glad it did.  There is a balance to earning a paycheck and fulfilling your dreams. 

It’s what I call having a checks and balance system.  And this system is personal.  By understanding the difference within your dreams and passion, you as an artist regardless of your artform can sustain yourself.  Ryan Gosling’s character demonstrates the distraction artists face by earning a paycheck solely from their passion, or what they love to do but not necessarily why they do it.  Is that enough?  Eventually, in my interpretation at least, he learns how to use the paycheck to fuel his dream. 

Similarly, Emma Stone’s character learns a valuable artistic lesson – appreciation of an audience.  She eventually lands her big break when she least expects it because one audience member noticed and appreciated her work.  When she gave back the time and energy to that one person she was immensely rewarded. 

This is the point of audience development.  Understand your passion and trust that you have support from at least one person.  Put all your energy into that one (or few) person(s) and the rewards can be life changing. 

Have you got your checks and balances in order?  Have you forgotten about that one person who has been influenced by your work? It's never too late to be reminded and take some action!