Robert De Niro kept it real in his commencement address to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts on Friday, telling graduating fellow actors (as well as artists, dancers, writers, directors, photographers, and filmmakers), "You’re f***ed."
"You discovered a talent, developed an ambition and recognized your passion," the 71-year-old actor said in his speech (watch it here). "When you feel that, you can't fight it, you just go with it. When it comes to the arts, passion should always trump common sense. You aren't just following dreams, you're reaching for your destiny."
"You have to keep working, it's that simple," De Niro told the grads, joking that "a new door is opening for you – a door to a lifetime of rejection."
The actor teasingly told the assembled artists that the advice he gives his own six kids is to "get an accounting degree," but then offered up the real words of wisdom.
"As corny as it sounds, I say, 'Don't be afraid to fail'," he explained. "I urge them to take chances, to keep an open mind, to welcome new experiences and new ideas. I tell them that if you don't go, you'll never know. You just have to go out there, be bold and go out there and take your chances."
For the assembled artists, De Niro also suggested a new mantra, "Next!", to be shouted when failure or rejection hits.
"As long as you give your best, it’s okay," he said.