St. John’s Antigua- Hollywood film star and director Bill Duke has some words of caution for those in Antigua & Barbuda who hope to propel the country to the forefront of the multi-billion dollar film industry.
Duke of Predator and Deep Cover fame spoke to OBSERVER Entertainment on Thursday about the difficulties involved in entering the film industry and the challenges that can be expected as Motion Picture Association of Antigua & Barbuda (MPAAB) attempts to get a foot in the door.
“There has to be an understanding of the industry as a business,” Duke said. “A lot of people approach the arts from a passionate emotional point of view and there is nothing wrong with that but the real issue and problem is they don’t understand the business of the industry itself so as a result, they just get gobbled up by it and spat out.”
The 68-year-old American actor and film director, who has over 30 years of experience in the industry, said a tolerance for rejection is one of the most important tools for anybody wishing to succeed in the business.
He said for many people, “it’s like they are doing it based upon some kind of feeling and this a very cruel repressive rejective business. If you don’t have the ability to withstand rejection, it’s just something you shouldn’t do. You just shouldn’t do it because you are going to be rejected repeatedly.”
Duke believes it is this harsh nature of the multi-billion dollar industry that has driven many of the most successful stars into such drug-using habits that have resulted in them often derailing their careers, at least temporarily, and spending time in either prison or rehab.
“That’s why you see these Lindsay Lohans and these other kids and so on, the pain of that they deal with it through drugs and alcohol and all kinds of other activities,” Duke said.
“… I have God in my life and meditation and yoga and things like that to help me but you know dealing with rejection at the level you have in this industry is very difficult,” Duke added.
The movie star, who first broke into the industry in the 1980’s, said it is often the personal and repeated nature of the rejection that makes it hard to stomach.
“Suppose you have five auditions a day and they say ‘no you’re too dark, no your too short, no your too fat, no your lips are wrong, no your hair is wrong’. You may be a better actor than the person who has long hair or blue eyes or something. It’s not about your ability; It’s about the way you look,” Duke said.
“Now what kind of impact do you think that has on a human being if, five times a day, you go out for an audition and you think you are going for your talent and someone is saying you’re not the right look?” Duke added.
Meanwhile, Duke admitted there is a lack of black faces in Hollywood but said that much of that is because black persons are not doing enough to take advantage of opportunities to break into the industry.
“There never have been (enough black actors) and I hope there will be one day enough roles to fill this screen so we let our integrity and our beauty show…There are exceptions but they are exceptions, not the rule,” Duke said.
“But there are opportunities for us now to regroup and rethink and redo because it’s a time now when internet and technology give us opportunities we didn’t have before but we are not taking advantage of it,” Duke added.
The famed actor gave examples of technology opportunities that black actors don’t take enough advantage of.
“I go to these conferences all the time on new technology and stuff with nearly 3,000 people and at the most there are 15 black people. That’s our fault, I mean whatever you blame you empower. So I mean the conferences are there, the equipment is there, the seminars are there, where are we? Watching the game, it’s up to us. It’s up to us. I mean we have the expertise and we’re not stepping up,” Duke said.