George Lopez is an American comedian and actor. He’s known for starring in and self-producing his sitcom George Lopez on ABC, and has starred in over 30 films across his career. George’s comedy and work often examines race and ethnic relations, specifically Mexican American culture, and he has received several awards including the Imagen Vision Award, the Latin Spirit Award for Excellence inTelevision, and the National Hispanic Media Coalition Impact Award. George has pursuits outside of television as well. His autobiography Why You Crying was named in the bestsellers/top-20 list on TheNew York Times; he even went on to head his own charity, the George Lopez Foundation – whose mission is to bring positive change to underprivileged children. George recently co-created and stars in his new show Lopez vs. Lopez on NBC.
One of my most memorable moments from the last time I spoke with George was when I asked him who he looked up to in Hollywood. His answer: “No one. Hollywood is an imaginary place, and I don't lookup to imaginary people.” Since our last conversation, George has aired his new show Lopez vs. Lopez, and he told me that working on this show is the most personally creative venture he’s taken on yet, and it thrilled with how rewarding it is. I was curious to hear more about George’s sobering and uplifting view of the entertainment industry, and he broke down it down for me with:
(1) A proverb about work life;(2) A motto he lives by;
(3) A key epiphany he had;(4) A bit of painful advice.
“It’s much harder than it looks, and I make it look easy.” This is what George answered when I asked him what someone would quickly learn about him after walking a mile in his shoes. George explained that the story behind his success hasn’t always been a pretty one. He’s had agents scream at him over the phone that “no one wants to see you on TV anymore.” That’s not an easy thing to hear, and it’s crazy to think that someone as famous as George has been told that! Even in the face of such opposition and even self-doubt, George always kept heading forward with the attitude of: “Why not me? At least I can try.”
“If you want to go to your past, go to your friends; if you want to go far go alone.” This really struck a chord with me. I’ve always recognized the people I’ve lost touch with and the relationships I’ve had drift apart because of my own path in life – the loneliness of it can be hard to ignore. And George reiterated that that’s a reality of pursuing such a path. To a large extent it involves pushing yourself beyond what anyone else expects. Sometimes people will doubt you, or they won’t be able to commit to the vision like you can, and that’s going to mean you have to go alone. (Fun tid-bit: George told me one of his biggest honors was having Kobe Bryant on his late night show precisely because Bryant is the kind of person whois always alone in this way – he doesn’t ever do anything non-basketball related, except show up forGeorge’s show. What an honor!)
“So much of our pain is self-inflicted. We make ourselves insecure. It comes from us.” This is really fascinating to me – because oftentimes our experience is the opposite: We feel like things happen to us, that we are humiliated, or insulted, or the victims of circumstances outside of our control. George’s epiphany, however, is that while these things are outside of our control to a great extent, how we let them affect us is within our control. Whether or not you feel insecure is something you allow (or now allow)yourself to be. This can be very difficult, and I asked George what he thinks people who struggle with this can do to improve, he said: “I don’t know... But... With every good thought, a bad thought is eliminated.”
HIS PAINFUL ADVICE:
George told me about a very memorable moment in his formative years growing up. This happened around the time he was living with his grandfather after his (George’s) father had left. George’s grandfather told him: “You are lazy just like your father was.” George was hurt by this, as any of us would be; however, sometimes being told painful things is a necessary part of our growth as individuals –and in this case, it was. George took it as motivation. He turned something negative into a positive. And now George’s life and career is the manifestation of that. To me, this is a great reminder not to become defeated in the face of pain and struggle, but to push through to even greater heights.