“My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp. And somehow, I ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage. They say stories like these only happen in the movies. I cannot believe it’s happening to me. This – this is the American dream.”
This was Ke Huy Quan’s opening message of his acceptance speech at the 95th Academy Awards, at which he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” That film also won for Best Picture.
Later in the night, Brendan Fraser won Best Actor for his turn in “The Whale,” a movie in which he portrays an obese teacher looking to restore his relationship with his daughter.
So why does success at the Academy Awards in 2023 matter for entrepreneurs? Because one message it sends is that it’s never too late to fulfill your dreams.
Another is that it takes grit and perseverance to reach the top of your profession. The stories of these two winners in particular provide inspiration to entrepreneurs who’ve scratched and clawed and sacrificed to take their product or company to the next level.
Are sales underwhelming? Struggling to get funding?
Quan’s parting message may be what you need to hear: “Dreams are something you have to believe in. I almost gave up on mine. To all of you out there, please keep your dreams alive.”
Starting From the Bottom
Both Quan and Fraser have taken turns in and out the Hollywood spotlight. In fact, both actors appeared in “Encino Man,” the 1992 comedy about two teenagers discovering a caveman buried in their backyard. Doesn’t sound like the launchpad for a critically acclaimed career, does it?
Quan is known to audiences for his roles as a child actor in “The Goonies” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” Fraser is best-known for box office hits like “The Mummy” at the turn of the century. But their spotlight would soon fade.
Quan has only a handful of acting credits over the past 25 years. Fraser, meanwhile, fell out of favor after his body took a beating due to his many action roles. He also claimed in a 2018 GQ profile that former Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Philip Berk sexually assaulted him in 2003.
Pain. Heartbreak. Apathy. These are a few of the emotions that actors, entrepreneurs, and anybody else feels when trying to build something from nothing.
In many ways, actors are entrepreneurs. High risk, high reward. You’re often at the mercy of your audience.
“I never would’ve believed that I would’ve been offered the role of my life in this character,” Fraser said earlier this year. “He’s someone who is on a raft of regrets but he’s in a sea of hope. I’ve been at that sea and I’ve rode that wave lately… believe me, if you just stay in there and you put one foot in front of the other, you’ll get to where you need to go. Have courage.”
Passion. Resilience. Tenacity. These are just a few traits that define an entrepreneur.