James Franco, Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep and Other Celebs Give Advice to Aspiring Actors and Entertainers

A compendium of career advice from celebrity actors and entertainers.

Aspiring entertainers love to get career advice from successful actors, musicians and comics. Celebrities who are serious about their craft, like James Franco, Natalie Portman, Derek Hough and Lupita Nyong'o, often share pointers about breaking into the entertainment industry or just maintaning quality work.

Find out what these A-list stars have to say about making it in show business.

Johnny Depp: One of the bravest actors around, Johnny Depp talked to Variety about committing to roles that are sure to attract criticism, saying: "I know sometimes [with roles] people will watch it and say, 'That's just madness, he's just playing some weirdo or he's painted his face again.' But these are the characters that I see, it's how I see them. And if you feel it's the right thing to do for the character and you stick to your guns, no matter what, at least you tried something. Even if it's an absolute failure."

Natalie Portman: The 18-year-old Star Wars actress told Lifestyles, in 1999: "Acting is very emotional and you really kind of have to forget your intellect sometimes just to become part of the character. You have to become just completely unconscious of yourself, to move into some other state."

James Franco: He's played many dark characters over the years, but James Franco has a compelling reason for gravitating toward villains and antiheroes, explaining: "Acting is an art form and you want to take roles that are challenging, and it's more of a challenge I think to play dark characters. Not that I want to always play those, but it is a challenge and challenges are rewarding and fun."

Lupita Nyong'o: Like Franco, actress Lupita Nyong looks for challenging roles, saying: "I decided early on that if I don't feel connected to, excited by, and challenged by the character, the part probably isn't for me."

Derek Hough: Dancing With the Stars golden boy Derek Hough put his advice in a book titled Taking the Lead: Lessons from a Life in Motion. These lessons include: "Figure out your passion and everything else will fall into place"; "There is success in every step you take"; and "Surround yourself with positive influences."

Meryl Streep: In an interview with the Hartford Courant, multiple Oscar-winner Meryl Streep related how she got her start after drama school, by participating in the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. Not only did the experience help launch her career, it impacted the way she works: "At the O'Neill, you didn't have time [for research and deep analysis]. You had five seconds to make a decision so you make your best choice," adding, "At the O'Neill there was no time for doubts. There was no time for sunscreen. There wasn't any time for anything but the work."

Barbra Streisand: According to the iconic Barbra Streisand, you've got to keep it real: "One, find your passion. Find what you love to do," she said. "Two, trust your instincts. Three, stay true to yourself—people respond to authenticity, and they can smell a phony."

Ricky Gervais: The comedian told Time: "Whenever I'm asked that standard question, 'What advice would you give to someone who wants success like yours,' I say 'work hard, be original and write about what you know' I'm always tempted to add 'and get final edit,' but I'm aware that this is very difficult starting out, and that I'm an incredibly rare case to have always been afforded this privilege."

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