What Roger Ebert's Life Can Teach Even the Greenest Entertainment Business Newbie

Roger Ebert and his wife Chaz Hammelsmith
"Work for a cause, not for applause;
 Live life to express, not to impress;
 Don't strive to make your presence noticed, just make your absence felt." -Unknown

Iconic film critic Roger Ebert certainly fulfilled the quote, down to the final statement, as the nation demonstrated at his funeral yesterday. Hollywood elite and politicos braved the cold and rain to join local Chicagoans to celebrate the industry veteran's life.

Whether you're an entertainment industry vet or a total newbie, Ebert's life and the celebration of it leaves an indelible challenge for you.

Ebert's Prolific Footprint

Ebert's entertainment career spanned print, television, film, and the web for more than 40 years. He even recently added blogging on politics and religion to his repertoire, despite fighting thyroid cancer (which spread to his salivary glands and jaw). His wife Chaz Hammelsmith said he was a "soldier for social justice," adding "he had a heart big enough to accept and loved all."

According to TheWrap, Ebert stayed busy. His numbers stacked high:

  • did 7,202 movie reviews
  • produced 3 screenplays
  • produced 5 different review shows over the years
  • published 38 books
  • sent over 31,000 tweets
  • won a Pulitzer Prize in 1975 (currently the only film critic in history to do so)

What impact do you plan to make?

There's only one you. No one like you has ever existed, and there will never be another you after you're gone. So how will you make your mark?

Of course, each person's different, so your legacy may be smaller than Ebert's (or even greater, depending on your ambition and actions), but his life lays down an inexorable gauntlet.

The challenge may seem daunting when using his life as a reference point, but the good news is it doesn't take much to leave an impression. As in all areas of life, little things add up in the entertainment industry: you can start with doing social good (volunteering, mentoring, sharing your knowledge) and/or provide quality content (blogging, curation, podcasting, videos, interviews, etc.).

Your ultimate takeaway: You are no accident.

Neither is your choice to work in the entertainment business. Don't just slog through your work in this expansive microcosm. There are plenty of people who already crowd the space with their banality.

Work for a cause, as the quote says, and do your job so well that your absence is felt, even if you're replaced.

How do you make your mark on this industry? Leave a comment below.


Photo source: Getty Images.


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About the Author: Mellissa Thomas is a freelance writer, blogger, web content writer, copyeditor, proofreader, and authors three blogs: E.i. Geek (Blogger), her writing blog Mellifluity Inc. (WP), and The Tenderfoot Files, the online platform for her 5-ebook suspense series (WP). 

She has also self-published two books: a weekly devotional entitled From a Babe: A Weekly Devotional, and the first ebook of her 5-ebook series, Abstracted: Episode 1 of the Tenderfoot Series.
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