Surprising Hollywood Career Advice That Isn’t Totally Useless

Carving out a career path can be tough. Sometimes a word of advice is all you need to get the motivation to keep pushing forward. One place you might not have considered getting advice is Hollywood. Surprisingly, some of Hollywood’s hottest celebrities have wise career advice. Here are 15 pieces of Hollywood career advice that aren’t totally useless.

1. Don’t become overly invested in your job

Amy Poehler
Make sure the people in your life are more important than your career. | Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Treat your career like a bad boyfriend. … Your career won’t take care of you. It won’t call you back or introduce you to its parents. Your career will openly flirt with other people while you are around. It will forget your birthday and wreck your car. You career will blow you off if you call it too much. It’s never going to leave its wife. … Your career will never marry you. … If your career is a bad boyfriend, it is healthy to remember you can always leave and go sleep with somebody else. —Amy Poehler

You might love your job, but it shouldn’t become your whole world. In her book Yes Please, comedian Amy Poehler said a career is not going to care for you and solve all of your problems. At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you. That sometimes means leaving and looking for a new job if your current one is making you miserable. That also means making sure you have work-life balance and that you take care of your basic needs. If you don’t, you could jeopardize not only your job but also your health.

2. Follow your own path

Ellen DeGeneres
She set her own path. | HGTV

Never follow anyone else’s path, unless you’re in the woods and lost and you see a path. Then, by all means, you should follow that. —Ellen DeGeneres

Someone else’s career path might not work for you. That’s why it’s necessary to learn what you’re passionate about and carve out your own unique path. This is the message comedienne Ellen DeGeneres gave to Tulane University’s 2009 graduating class. Find your passion, and then pursue it. Design your future, and take the path that’s right for you.

3. Take advantage of an opportunity to get a raise

Matt LeBlanc
Take advantage of opportunities. | BBC America

If you’re in a position in any job, no matter what the job is — if you’re driving a milk truck or installing TVs or an upholsterer for a couch — if you’re in a position to get a raise and you don’t get it, you’re stupid. You know what I mean? We were in a position, and we were able to pull it off. “Worth it” has nothing to do with it. —Matt LeBlanc

According to former Friends star Matt LeBlanc, if you can get a raise and you don’t ask for it, you’re not too bright. Remember these wise words the next time you’re in a situation where you could make a higher salary. Just make sure not to just march into your boss’s office and start making demands. Do the appropriate research beforehand, and gather enough evidence to make your case for why you deserve a higher pay.

4. Welcome change

Peter Dinklage
Take risks, and make changes. | Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

I hated that job and I clung to that job. … I spent six years in a job I felt stuck in. Maybe I was afraid of change. … When I was 29, I told myself, the next acting job I get, no matter what it pays, I will from now on, be a working actor, and I’ve worked as an actor ever since. The world might say you are not allowed to yet. Don’t bother telling the world you are ready. Show it. Do it. … Raise the rest of your life to meet you. Don’t wait until they tell you that you are ready. Get in there. —Peter Dinklage

Peter Dinklage left a job in data processing to pursue an acting career. He told Bennington College’s class of 2012 he was terrified of making a change. But after six years in a job he didn’t love, he made a decision to switch careers. His decision to move past his fear and take a leap of faith resulted in him landing several acting roles, which eventually led to him being one of the lead characters on Game of Thrones. If you do what Dinklage did and ignore your fear and doubt, you could be just a few steps away from the experience of a lifetime.

5. Don’t get comfortable

Morgan Freeman
It’s probably hard to keep challenging yourself when you’re already at his level. | Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Challenge yourself; it’s the only path which leads to growth. —Morgan Freeman

Once you’ve reached a certain level in your career, it’s easy to get comfortable. However, it’s best to keep striving to get better. You can do this by continuing to learn and perfect your craft. Take classes, read books, and do whatever it takes to be the best you can be in your field. Keep challenging yourself to reach the next level.

6. Don’t be afraid to fail

Oprah Winfrey smiling
Oprah knows that failure can lead to success. | Mike Windle/Getty Images

Failure is just that thing trying to move you in another direction. —Oprah Winfrey

At some point in your career, you will fail. You could make a big mistake at work, get fired, or perform poorly during an interview for a coveted position. However, it’s important to remember that one wrong move doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be a failure for the rest of your life. It’s simply an opportunity to explore another purpose. This is the lesson Oprah Winfrey wanted to impart during her speech to a group of students at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

7. Know when to say ‘no’

Lady Gaga at press event
Lady Gaga knows her limits. | Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images

I feel sad when I’m overworked, and I just become a money-making machine, and my passion and my creativity take a back seat. That makes me unhappy. So, what did I do? I started to say no. I’m not doing that. I don’t want to do that. … And slowly but surely, I remembered who I am. —Lady Gaga

At one point in her career, Lady Gaga said she had considered walking away from music. During a talk she gave as part of her Emotional Revolution project, the singer emphasized the importance of saying no when appropriate. It’s vital to know your limits, so you don’t become burned out. When you suffer from work burnout, it’s difficult to do your best work, so practice setting limits.

8. Don’t wait for success

Heidi Klum
There are always people waiting for things to happen. | NBC

Success doesn’t happen by waiting for things to happen because there are other people who are hungry. The early bird catches the worm. —Heidi Klum

If you want to have a successful career, go out and get it. Opportunities will rarely just be handed to you. You’ll have to seek out your own opportunities and work hard to become successful. For example, don’t just sit and wait to get that promotion you’ve been wanting. Ask your supervisor for a more challenging position. Ask for what you want, and make your own success.

9. Have goals

Denzel Washington
Make your dream a reality through setting goals. | Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Remember, dreams without goals are just dreams. And they ultimately fuel disappointment. So, have dreams, but have goals. Life goals, yearly goals, monthly goals, daily goals. I try to give myself goals every day. —Denzel Washington

In his Dillard University commencement address, actor Denzel Washington encouraged graduates to dream big. However, he also told them to make sure those dreams are accompanied by goals. It’s not enough to just wish, hope, and pray that things in your life will turn out a certain way. It’s important to write down your goals and make a plan to achieve them.

10. Be a problem solver

Tina Fey
Be a problem solver. | Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles. We’ve all worked with that person. That person is a drag. —Tina Fey

In her book Bossypants, Tina Fey outlines some lessons she learned from her life and career. In one chapter, she advises people to refrain from always being the one who presents problems. Try something different, and be the solution for a change. She said it’s important to move past your insecurities and have confidence in your ability to problem solve.

11. Don’t be afraid to have tough conversations

Shonda Rhimes smiles while posing on the red carpet in a black dress.
You can’t be afraid to speak your mind. | Leon Bennett/Getty Images

Too often we avoid saying the things that really need to be said, and the problem with that is twofold: It wastes a ton of time in a work environment, and it puts unnecessary stress and strain on everybody involved. … Whether the conversation involves telling your boss that you want a raise, telling your employee that he or she is not doing a good job, or telling a colleague that he or she offended you, the difficult conversation often solves the problem on the spot. Just be sure to be respectful on every level. —Shonda Rhimes

This is career advice Shonda Rhimes, producer for hit TV shows Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder, gave in her InStyle magazine interview. Sitting quietly and never voicing your concerns or waiting until someone else brings up a tough topic is no way to spend your career. Practice speaking up, even when faced with a tough topic. For example, instead of waiting for your boss to raise your salary, make a point to set up a meeting and ask for what you want.

12. Take risks

Even at the top, she keeps setting goals. | Mike Coppola/Getty Images

I can never be safe; I always try and go against the grain. As soon as I accomplish one thing, I just set a higher goal. That’s how I’ve gotten to where I am. —Beyoncé Knowles

Singer Beyoncé Knowles told Billboard that her successful career is a result of taking risks. Playing it safe when it comes to your career won’t get you very far. It’s important to step out of your comfort zone every now and then. You could encounter a life-changing opportunity that will propel you further than you ever imagined. The most successful people take risks and try again when they fail.

13. Know what you want

Singer Madonna attends The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards
Madonna knows how to get stuff done. | Jason Merritt/Getty Images

I’m tough, ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. —Madonna

It’s up to you to carve out the life and career you want. Decide where you would like to be in a few years, and take the appropriate steps to make your career dream a reality. You won’t be able to move forward until you figure out where you want to go. One way to figure out what you want from your career is to set up a lunch or coffee date and talk to people who work in the industry you’re interested in.

14. Do what makes you happy

Leonardo DiCaprio
Make yourself happy, and you’ll find your own success. | Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

If you can do what you do best and be happy, you’re further along in life than most people. —Leonardo DiCaprio

Don’t choose a career because you think it will make your family and friends happy. Choose a path that makes you happy. Living to please others will only make you miserable and dissatisfied with your career choice. If you love what you do, you’ll perform better on the job and have a much better quality of life.

15. Keep reaching toward your dream

Brad Pitt
He’s always working to be better. | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

You gotta keep pushing. You just have to keep pushing. —Brad Pitt

This is what actor and producer Brad Pitt told Glamour when asked what it takes to get a job in Hollywood. No matter which industry you choose, it’s a good idea to stay the course and keep going after your dreams. Even if others tell you you’re not smart enough or you don’t have what it takes, keep moving forward. Eventually, someone will see your hard work, and you’ll get the big break you’ve been waiting for.
Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @SheiresaNgo.
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