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Hollywood, Oscars and Obstacles to Opportunities

Spending the latter part of my teen years growing up in southern California, more specifically in the Los Angeles area – you can imagine how natural it was for the Oscars to be a part of my life. Even before my family settled in the Los Angeles area I can remember watching the Oscars with my Great Grandma, my mom and other relative during visits to southern California.

As a youngster it was exciting to see all the glitz and glamour of the red carpet. But I have to say my favorite part was seeing the actors, actress’, directors and all the others that make all the movie magic happen… Get recognized and rewarded for their hard work. To see them walk up to the podium, weepy eyed as they finally achieve one of their dreams and reach what many in their industry think is the ultimate goal, the Oscar.

While I have watched the Oscars less over the year then I had as I child I still tune in now and again, and I especially will tune in when I have a vested curiosity in some of the outcomes. 2007 was one of those times. One movie in particular really had my interest, “Letters from Iwo Jima” a Clint Eastwood film that definitely moved me. I mean after all I am the son of a lifetime military man that served in two wars after all.

But that is not the story I want to talk about. No, the story I want to talk about right now is about a different movie, and a young lady in it. A young lady many of you will know from the 2006 movie “Dreamgirls”, or perhaps from her time on American Idol, or certainly from her new and improved look that she shows off in the Weight Watcher’s commercials. I am sure many of you have guessed already that I am referring to Jennifer Hudson. But as one of idols says I want to share “the rest of the story.”

Let us go back before her days on American Idol, before most of us were introduced to her fantastic voice. Let’s go back and see how she creates an amazing example of persistence, of finding your passion, of following your dreams, and striving to turn obstacles into opportunity.

Jennifer is the youngest of three and kicked off her performance career at the ripe old age of seven. She started off singing in the church choir and doing Community Theater. In 2002 she received her first recording contract from Righteous Records. The president and his staff worked with Jennifer for a full year of ‘artist development’ They worked tirelessly five days a week on things such as live performance, stage presence, song writing, on camera interviewing, etiquette etc. While the company released her from her contract so she could compete on American Idol in 2004 – Jennifer credits David Johnson the president of Righteous Records with preparing her for the successful career she now enjoys. She also attributes her vocal ability to her grandmother who encouraged her to pursue her dreams.

However, in 2003 before appearing on American Idol, Jennifer was doing a tour on the Disney Cruise Lines. Aboard the Disney Wonder Jennifer played as one of the Muses from Hercules. After completing her 7 month contract she opted not to renew and as off to Atlanta for the American Idol try outs. She left behind a sure thing in order to, as her grandmother said – pursue her dreams.

70,000 hopefuls were also there to pursue their dreams. She was able to sing her way through 69,993 of them. She even received the highest number of votes during the Top 9 when she performed Elton John’s “Circle of Life.” However, two weeks later was voted off during the Top 7 show after performing Barry Manilow’s “Weekend in New England.” In 2009, MTV listed her as the sixth greatest American Idol and in 2010 the Los Angeles Times stated she was the third best contestant in Idol history, putting only Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood over her.

For so many the dream would have stopped there or it would have returned to the cruise lines or back to Righteous Records. The first contract given up, the second one with Disney not renewed, all lost to the obstacle of the other six competitors she left on that fateful evening in mid-April 2004.

But not Jennifer Hudson and I want you to follow her lead and not let your obstacles stop you either. You see she would not and did not lose sight of her goal. Have you? She knew and believed. Jennifer being a woman of religious faith said “God has something in store for me. I don’t know where or when but something big is coming.” You need to have that same level of faith.

She did not lose sight of her goals. She said, “God has something in store for me. I don’t know where or when but something big is coming.” When it comes to obstacles and reaching dreams she says “Tear down the mountains. Yell, scream and shout like you can say what you want. I’m not walking out stop all the rivers, push, strike… ” she tore down screamed, shouted and sung her way into the hearts of millions. Pursuing her dream of song and sharing her voice with us all.

Jennifer’s next stop? Well that’s where we come full circle. She landed her role as “Effie White” in the movie “Dreamgirls.” She won the role over 782 other professional singers and actresses including the likes of Raven-Symone and Fantasia Barrino fellow Idol alumni. For those of you that have not heard her spine tingling rendition of “And I am Telling You I’m Not Going” you need to go listen to it. Her performance in the role landed her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. But it doesn’t stop there, as Effie White Jennifer won a total of 29 awards and will forever hold the title of First Black Actress to win an Oscar in her acting debut.

From young choir singer, to giving up a record deal, to giving up a Disney deal, to losing on American Idol, to winning an Oscar and 28 other awards THAT is not giving up on your dream on NOT losing focus on your goals.

So remember, when you do not get what you when you want it. When you work hard and see little in return. It means something bigger and better is right around the corner. Do not stop, so many stop when their ‘win’ is just around the corner or just over the horizon. If you are willing to persist and turn that obstacle into an opportunity you can and will reach your goal and live the life you dream, desire and deserve.

Think Successfully & Take Action – towards your Oscar Level Goal

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