Many aspiring actors move to Los Angeles in hopes to find success. Some of them imagine themselves on red carpets, while others envision receiving their own Hollywood Walk Of Fame star. What happens when that illusion breaks and you have no idea what you should do? That’s the question legendary actor Bill Duke answered in his new book “Bill Duke: 40 Years On Screen and Behind The Camera.”
“One of my purposes for writing the book is hopefully that it is helpful for other people coming into the industry. A lot of kids have the passion but don’t understand the business,” said Duke.
His business mind was what propelled his career. Known for his roles in popular films such as “Predator,” “Commando,” and currently “Black Lightning,” Duke digs deeper into why he loves being an actor. His family played a large role in providing him motivation. They developed his work ethic since childhood.
“They worked relentlessly. My mother had two jobs and my father had three. Sometimes they worked seven days a week. They didn’t let anything stop them,” Duke said over the phone.
Though his parents gave him courage, it was seeing popular Black actors on-screen that changed his life.
“Sidney Poiter was such a profound influence. He wasn’t just an actor, but he stood for things that mattered, “ said Duke.
“He stood up for his pride, himself, and his family. That inspired me”
Though he was shining on screen, his personal life was dark. He doesn’t hold back speaking about his past drug habits in his book. Some of those habits hindered his career. It wasn’t until a good friend introduced him to transcendental meditation that his life changed.
“A friend of mine saw me tumbling down. My head was not right. She told me about transcendental meditation. At first it was okay. After about a month it changed my life. I was higher than any drug I took at the time,” Duke said.
Years later, Duke is drug free and continues to motivate incoming actors about the art of filmmaking. He stresses the importance of finding your own path and not waiting on anyone. The explosion of mainstream media further proves why building your own brand is important according to the actor.
“There has been a paradigm shift from television to media. Look at Issa Rae. She had a show online then HBO came after her. Same thing happened to “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” It started online. You can discover yourself.” Duke asserted.
Though artists are succeeding in the industry, Duke advises to deny the fame hungry mindset. He explains why enjoying the craft should outweigh any recognition you may receive.
“I understand people that want recognition but its all momentary fame. There should be more attention to the business. It’s called show business. Actually, it should be called business-show since business is everything. Times are changing. You have to leverage yourself into success,” Duke explained.
“Bill Duke: 40 Years On Screen and Behind The Camera” is currently available where books are sold.