Diary Of A Hollywood Refugee

Sunday, May 15, 2005

His Inner Struggle

The love of fame is the last weakness which even the wise resign.
Publius Cornelius Tacitus

Many months back, I wrote about why I left Hollywood and about the downside of fame in a post entitled "I am A Hollywood Refugee" .

Today, I've just read a very deep interview with Dave Chappell, who has gone to South Africa, in need of spiritual renewal, after leaving his uber successful show on Comedy Central.

"Let me tell you the things I can do here which I can't at home: think, eat, sleep, laugh. I'm an introspective dude. I enjoy my own thoughts sometimes. And I've been doing a lot of thinking here." The picture he paints—and it seems a fairly honest and frank assessment— is of someone struggling to come to terms with a new position and power who's still figuring out how to come to grips with how people around him are reacting to the $50 million deal he signed last year with Comedy Central"

Here's an excerpt from my post:

...the glaring intense spotlight that the celebs I know, sometimes choose to bask in, can still be blinding to me. The irony is that while celebs love the attention the spotlight brings them, believing the attention connects them to many people, more often than not it creates a state of isolation, separation, and distrust.

And what loneliness is more lonely than distrust?

When the spotlite gets too big and too bright, when the light that shines on a celeb gets too intense, they need friends around them to keep them grounded, together and to deflect the light away from them

Now here's what Dave goes onto say about why he quit his show:

"If you don't have the right people around you and you're moving at a million miles an hour you can lose yourself," he says. "Everyone around me says, 'You're a genius!'; 'You're great!'; 'That's your voice!' But I'm not sure that they're right."

You got to be careful of the company you keep," Chappelle says. "It's hard to know how much to say. One of the things that happens when people make the leap from a certain amount of money to tens of millions of dollars is that the people around you dramatically change.

"During my ascent, I've seen other people go through that wall to become really big. They always said that fame didn't change them but that it changes the people around them. You always hear that but you never really understand it. But now that I'm there that makes a lot of sense and I'm learning what that means. You have to have people around you that you can trust and aren't just out for a meal ticket."

It seems Dave is coming to realize that Fame is a Pandora's Box! We share that common understanding and experience!

I'm not so sure I agree with Dave when he and his celeb friends say "Fame doesnt change you, it changes the people around you" Fame DOES both. She changes you, by instilling within you doubt and distrust, of those in your inner circle, both your friends and those you work with, and she changes the way in which those in your inner circle now react towards you.

Not only do they become uncomfortable around you, uncertain how to act, what to do, (remember when you all earned the same amout, and you all split the the bill for dinner - NOW watch how those around you sit back..and want you to pay) they also experience envy, or deep jealousy, and for some reason an attitude of entitlement suddenly surfaces in people who you'd least expect that from.

The spotlite is glaring, and blinding and everyone wants to stand in it with you!

Suddenly people feel you OWE them for having been there when you were struggling. But since when does friendship come with strings attached!

When Jim Carrey ( who I had the pleasure of meeting and spending a fair amount of time talking with on the set of The Cable Guy) was asked why he didn't give his brothers and sisters back in Canada ALOT of money, or retire them, or turn them into instant millionaires, he would often reply " Because everyone has to have a purpose in life, a reason to get up in the morning". I'll leave you all to ponder what that means....Jim is deeply spiritual and adheres to the understanding that a Life Unexamined is a life not worth living.

"His religion is also crucial. "I don't normally talk about my religion publicly because I don't want people to associate me and my flaws with this beautiful thing. And I believe it is a beautiful religion if you learn it the right way. It's a lifelong effort. Your religion is your standard. Coming here I don't have the distractions of fame. It quiets the ego down. I'm interested in the kind of person I've got to become. I want to be well rounded and the industry is a place of extremes. I want to be well balanced. I've got to check my intentions, man."

I know most people find it hard to believe that there are some of us who worked in Hollywood and still do, who walk with God, have a non secular POV, and an inner landscape that reflects a deeper wisdom, because we aren't the norm, but every once in a while, you do get to learn about the inner landscape of a certain celeb , and you find that its not what you ever expected.

Dave Chappelle is struggling with the emptiness, loneliness, doubt and distrust that comes with fame and a huge paycheck! And he is wise enough to walk away until he can be filled spiritually and receive God's guidance quietly.

Fame may be a demanding fickle and unfaithful mistress, but even she has to respect a guy who walks away from her until he can be clear about his intentions and he can trust himself enough to know that he's doing what he's doing for the right reasons.

I cannot express how much I admire Dave, and how much I truly understand this inner struggle he now faces.

May he find the peace he seeks!


  • At 4:53 AM, May 16, 2005, Blogger Desultory Girl said…

    Quite a thoughtful post. I enjoyed it. It seems as though you have insight that many people could only wish they had.

    I hope Dave settles his issues too. He's too damn funny to go out like that. But truth is, he sounds quite introspective and he'll find a way to sort all the crap out. At least I'm pretty positive he will.

  • At 4:54 AM, May 16, 2005, Blogger Desultory Girl said…

    Oh yes, Argghhh sent me :)

  • At 7:07 AM, May 16, 2005, Blogger Huntress said…

    Thank you for your kind thoughts.

    If I have any insight at all, it because I live life to the fullest and I walk with God.

    My whole life is a spiritual journey.I believe everyone's life is...Im just able to recognize it where others might now, and that allows me to frame my experiences, and contextualize them, in a way that most people can't or don't.

    So Bill sent ya! He has a very special place in my heart!

    Dave is more introspective and more grounded than most celebs I know. He has had the kind of deep realizations most people in Hollywood are unable to have because the spotlite blinds them, and Fame is a powerful seductress, and sometimes they just can't see the forest for the trees!

    I have great faith Dave will find the peace he seeks.

    Thanks for dropping by, don't be a stranger!

  • At 9:42 AM, May 16, 2005, Anonymous BillT said…

    Spotlights are interesting on several levels.

    On one, their harsh glare reveals the tiniest of flaws, and their very brightness often blinds the viewer to those flaws...

    On another, the target of the spotlight sometimes believes that he--or she--is the actual source of the light...

    On yet another, one who seeks to bask too avidly in their light may get seriously burned...

  • At 11:42 AM, May 16, 2005, Blogger Barb said…

    Huntress - I suspect that the effects of the Intense Spotlight that you describe is similar to the battlefield effect that Bill and others can speak to.

    I think that very few of us are sane enough to allow our imperfections to be highlighted so fiercely without some ill side-effects. I certainly couldn't!

  • At 12:50 PM, May 16, 2005, Blogger Huntress said…

    Great observations and insights from all of you...

    I could write a book on that Pandora's Box called Fame and on both the upside and downside- of being in the spotlite - and being burnt by the glare of those living in the spotlite.

    Somedays more than others I remember why I am a Hollywood Refugee!

  • At 1:35 AM, May 17, 2005, Blogger Desultory Girl said…

    "On one, their harsh glare reveals the tiniest of flaws, and their very brightness often blinds the viewer to those flaws..."

    That's oh so true. I feel that it exists in the field of personal training and female bodybuilding/fitness. Well, at least for a personal trainer that trains themselves.

    The best way to explain it, is with that pressure it's difficult not to feel like you have to aim for perfection. For instance, I can't view my self as acceptable or really healthy unless I'm in a female professional bodybuilder form.

    In reality my health and body fat are in excellent to good ranges. But when you're under the microscope in this field, excellent is bottom of the chain. It's really a no win situation and I get sick of feeling like I'm fat all the time.

    There is always a fear that I'm being judged from the professional standards. And believe me, there is great unhappiness with that. Thus relating to Bill's last thought, that's where you get burned.

    Anyway, kind of off post, but relating to spotlight. Sorry, if I lost you in the sauce. All in all, the spotlight's a tough thing to be in.

  • At 9:45 PM, May 17, 2005, Blogger Huntress said…

    I completely understand what you 're sharing DG, it doesnt matter why you find yourself under the glare of the spotlite,its a two edged sword once it happens. As for being under pressure to aim for perfection; the ideal..(whatever you perceive that to be)I can completely empathize.....Working in Hollywood I was constantly surrounded by by stunning, plastic infused, barbie dolls.....it is every mans' dream playground ... Its impossible to live up to that fantasy.

    Few people will ever know the inner battle I fought daily!

  • At 4:53 AM, May 20, 2005, Blogger Desultory Girl said…

    I'm really glad to hear that you're not surrounded by that anymore. It's tough and I don't see myself sticking around personal training forever because of it.

    My best wishes to ya, babe. And btw, feel free anytime to drop your insights my way ;)


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