When they asked Steve Martin what it takes to break through in the entertainment business, he said it’s not about agents, contacts, or luck…it’s about, as he put it, “being SO good at what you do, that they can’t ignore you.”
With that in mind, I give you the story of Stefani Germanotta.
For years, this classically trained pianist and singer played in dumps, strip bars, and sleazy clubs. As a young kid…she idolized Judy Garland.
It was the early days of a VCR machine and she’d watch, rewind, and watch again Garland films like: “Meet me in St. Louis,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and her copy of the 1954 film with James Mason and Judy Garland in ‘A Star is born”.
She’d sing along with Garland on her records and her VCR machines tapes. Often, in her bathrobe, she’d pretend she WAS Judy Garland, taking a paper napkin and shaping it into an Oscar, and she’d recite imagined acceptance speeches that she’d give after she “won” the award.
At 17, she was studying at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. Then, at 21, she was admitted to NYU’s Collaborative Arts Project, and she began working as a singer in off Broadway productions.
But success came slowly for her.
She was an awkward and shy performer at first and she got very few auditions. At times she’d carry three jobs to try and earn a meager subsistence just to pay rent. Night after night, she’d play to crowds of 20-30 people… in bars, lounges, and hole-in-the-wall dives.
And every night on her way home on the subway, she’d remember, line for line, Judy Garland’s words and music, as she tried to move forward toward a career that she only dreamed of…fighting deep insecurity about her looks, body, and even her talent.
‘’You have the right sound,” agents would say, “but not the right look.”
‘I never cried, but I would hold on to my songs for dear life and say…you’ll get them only if your pry them from my cold, dead, fingers.”
Eventually, Stefani Germanotta, saw one of her greatest dreams realized.
It took intensely hard work, persistence, struggles with weight and substances, and overcoming paralyzing self-doubt….and, too, it took undeniable talent.
Lady Gaga is that young girl with her dream, but she is still Stef in her soul and memory.
At 37 years old, with nearly 400 million dollars in the bank, superstardom, and a 23-million-dollar 6-acre home in Malibu….she played the lead in the Bradley Cooper directed “A Star is Born”.
Lady Gaga was nominated for an Academy Award nomination….she didn’t win.
“To be honest, I think what makes me feel beautiful is when I see happiness in my fans,” she said choking back tears in an interview.
“ I want people to say, I saw your movie, and I cried my eyes out, and I learned something about myself.”
Stefani Germanotta learned something about herself too. She learned that all the talent in the world can’t be realized without persistence and a dream to see it through. To be “so good…they can’t ignore you.”
Judy Garland was exactly 32 (the same age Gaga was) when she made A Star is Born. She was once known as Frances Gumm.
Everybody comes from somewhere – in their hopes and aspirations, and ambition fuels them. Very few see their yearning realized.
Stefani Germanotta and Frances Gumm did.
When the world resisted, they persisted.
Lady Gaga once performed an incredible performance of a Sting cover…”If I ever lose my faith in you”. Truth is….she NEVER lost faith in herself.