Robert De Niro Tells NYU Arts Students They’re Screwed

Robert De Niro's commencement address at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Photo: NYU

Robert De Niro shared some pearls of wisdom over the weekend with new graduates from Tisch School of the Arts during his commencement address at New York University.

Attempting to brace young people seeking careers in the arts, the Academy Award-winning actor began his speech by congratulating the class of 2015 on making it to the big day, before promptly announcing,”you’re fucked.”

Students clapped and cheered, despite the reality check.

He continued, “A new door is opening for you—a door to a lifetime of rejection. It’s inevitable.”

Luckily for the students—and parents in the audience who footed the bill—De Niro encourages budding creatives to use setbacks to propel them towards success.

“When it comes to the arts, passion should always follow common sense. You aren’t just following your dreams, you’re fulfilling your destiny. Yeah, you’re fucked. The good news is, that isn’t a bad place to start.”

In addition to being a celebrated actor, producer, and director, De Niro is one of the founders of the Tribeca Film Festival and the son of Abstract Expressionist painter Robert De Niro, Sr. The Hollywood icon recently worked on a posthumous documentary for HBO about his father, titled, Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro Sr. (see Robert De Niro Sr. Is Having His Moment in the Art World, Auction Record for Robert De Niro Sr., Painter).

NYU wasn’t the only controversial commencement in town, however. Last week at Columbia, art student Emma Sulkowicz carried her mattress across the stage, in culmination of her year-long project, titled, “Carry that Weight” (see Emma Sulkowicz Carries Mattress to Columbia Graduation, Defying Administration). The artist vowed to bring her mattress with her until her alleged rapist was expelled from campus; graduating students were told in an email by the administration to not bring “large objects which could interfere with the proceedings or create discomfort to others” (see Columbia Student’s Performance Art Catalyzes a Full-Fledged Protest Movement, Columbia Student’s Striking Mattress Performance).

Watch a video recording of De Niro’s speech at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts commencement here.


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