His parents escaped Nazi Germany, he dropped out of high school at 15 and now he is the chief operating officer and president of Universal Studios.
Ron Meyer wedged his way into the entertainment industry and recently traveled to Grambling State University to shed some light on what many individuals hope to achieve.
As a journalist specifically obsessed with entertainment, I have dreamt for years of becoming an author and talk show host like Chelsea Handler or Oprah Winfrey.
Meyer’s seminar of sorts may have given me some useful advice to achieve my goal, but mostly, he advised aspiring directors, producers, actors and even engineers on how to get a foot in the door.
“You’ve got to start in the mailroom,” he said. “What you have most control over is who you are as a person. You have to take advantage of the crack in the door.”
When it comes to career paths toward stardom, it is who you know, without a doubt. Yes, talent is necessary, but consider this, Ron Meyer first entered the industry as a messenger boy. Boom. A foot in the door.
“You’ve got to stick around while other people sort of peter out of the process,” Meyer said.
But let’s be realistic, with only 200-250 big-screen productions each year, vacancies are difficult to come by. The chances of most of us making the big leagues are far and few between.
Meyer said, “I don’t think it’s a realistic goal for anyone, but that’s not a reason not to do it.”
Fame and fortune is not for the feeble hearted, it is for those who are willing to get their hands dirty. It is up to the dedicated and keen to find a way in.
I’ll be honest; it sounds a bit cultish, really. Some would sell their soul for fast cars, movie contracts and VIP access to everything.
Others, however, aim for the limelight, not for selfish reasons, but to impact the world with their gifts.
Still, adversity strikes on easy street just as it does in the life of the average Joe.
“Every movie we make, by the way, someone sues us,” Meyer said.
Individuals often claim intellectual theft, among other things. I can’t blame them entirely though, some movies today, anyone could easily have come up with the media.
Another dilemma in the industry is that employees of any status are disposable. At any moment, thousands of people are lined up for jobs in movies and television; it is a constant battle to maintain a position.
“This could all be taken away from me,” Meyer said. “I don’t own this company; I work for these people.”
He emphasized how easy it is for the man upstairs to pull the rug out from under an employee. It is mind boggling that even the president of Universal Studios said he hopes to be afforded the option to choose to leave, but it is possible, as he ages, that he will be asked to leave before he’s ready.
Regardless, Meyer said he feels very fortunate, like he is living his dream.
Everyone has the same opportunity, but time will sort out those who are determined enough to reach it, to get their foot in the door.
“It doesn’t happen for everyone,” he said,” but it does happen, and it happens everyday.”
So, what are you waiting for?
Grace Moore is a junior journalism major from Waterloo, Iowa, who serves as entertainment editor for The Tech Talk. Email comments to gmm...@latech.edu.