Watching the Will Packer interview clip in the post just below this one, as he shared his thoughts with the interviewer on what makes Kevin Hart the success that he’s become (specifically his work ethic), I couldn’t help but think of Will Smith during his early days, as his star was rising in a somewhat similar seemingly meteoric fashion as Hart’s.
I remember a quote fro Will Smith that went something like this (I’m paraphrasing here): “I’ve never really viewed myself as particularly talented; where I excel is in a ridiculous, sickening work ethic. While the other guy is sleeping, I’m working. While the other guy is eating, I’m working.“
I think if you asked Kevin Hart the same question that Will was asked when he gave the above answer, Kevin’s reply would be very similar.
Essentially, Will realizes that he may not necessarily be the most talented of his peers at what they all do, but he wasn’t (isn’t) relying entirely on the talent that he has to make himself a success. He’s a very hard worker too! Some of us seem to forget that there’s a lot more to the “show” part of show-business, than just what one does in front of the screen.
All this came about as I was scouting YouTube looking for a clip to use in another post I’m working on, and I stumbled upon several old clips of Mr Smith going through one movie premiere after another, each one in a different city (and even in a different continent) all within a span of a matter of days. And each time, he looked just as euphoric, and full of energy, mingling with countless anxious fans, as he did in the previous city’s premiere, even if it was just the night before, several hundred, if not thousands of miles away.
He stops to sign autographs, shakes hands, honors kiss requests, and even dances with a band, all-the-while maintaining his signature Big Willie smile, seemingly thoroughly and gladly drowning himself in each moment!
First he’s in Paris, then a few days later, he’s in London, and the following night he’s in Moscow, and so on, and so forth, maintaining the same brand of sincere intensity each and every time, Big Willie style as usual, as adoring fans clamor for a mere sighting or touch of one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
But the magic doesn’t end there; the traveling continues for another 2 to 3 straight months, as the movie (whatever it is) premieres in other countries around the world, and there’s Will, walking the red carpet at each locale, flashing that smile, satisfying old fans, and winning new ones over with what feels like an unpretentious charm. Is it any wonder that he’s the biggest star, not only in America, but in the world?
One can attribute his popularity in recent years partly to the fact that, for a few years previously, before the hiatus he took after Seven Pounds in 2008, he was maybe one of the hardest working celebrities. Making the film is half the job. Promoting it is just as important, and Will certainly hasn’t ever taken that phase of the process lightly. He’s smart enough to know that he’s not only promoting the movie, but he’s also promoting himself, his brand, which will help when his next film begins its release schedule.
Despite the relentless, unwavering smiles and charm, it can’t all be fun, can it? I think I’d get tired of the press junkets, the cameras, the people, the fans, the pomp and circumstance. It’ll start to wear me down after awhile – not to mention the frequent trips, jet lag, etc… London one night, Moscow the next, New York the next, L.A. the next, Tokyo, and so on, and so forth… and I can’t forget about family left behind!
The impression I get is that Will’s approach, and also Kevin Hart’s approach, to celebrity self-promotion isn’t a popular one amongst the general celebrity population. It’s work! It’s well paid work, but it’s still work. And they both are definitely enjoying the fruits of their “hard labor.”
So if you’re one of those wondering why Hart is seemingly suddenly so popular at the box office, consider his work ethic as one (among other) reasons.
I’m not suggesting that Kevin’s success will necessarily match Will’s eventually, but he’s certainly off to a great start, given what he’s been able to accomplish in the last 2 years alone – from hit movies to hit stand-up comedy concerts.
I suppose if there’s a point to all this, it’s to emphasize the importance of near-relentless, wide promotion of your work, and especially not ignore those media outlets that might seem too small, inconsequential or of no use to you.
For example, I recall, years ago, before AFFRM’s initial release, Ava DuVernay (who spearheaded the movement) decided that she would entertain interviews about AFFRM by really anyone with an audience who wanted to talk to her about the movement, whether they had an audience of 5 people, or a readership of 50, or hundreds of listeners, or thousands of viewers, or millions of pageviews, etc; It didn’t seem to really matter to her. The point/goal was to reach as many people, in as many different places as possible. No snobbing. And I’d say the results speak to the efforts.
It’s work, but the extra effort can make a world of difference – especially at the box office.
Here’s a video clip of Big Willie in Moscow, during the premiere of Hancock, in all his Big Willie style glory (and as I recall, the night before this, he was in London, and the night before that, in Berlin, and the night before that in Paris. And after this stop in Moscow, he headed back to the USA for the film’s premiere, and still came with the same kind of seemingly effortless energy and excitement):