While reading GQ's recent interview with Denzel Washington, I was struck by his statement on why he isn't more omnipresent in the media —“Sidney Poitier told me this years ago: ‘If they see you for free all week, they won't pay to see you on the weekend, because they feel like they've seen you. If you walk by the magazine section in the supermarket and they've known you all their life, there's no mystery. They can't take the ride.’ My professional work is being a better actor. I don't know how to be a celebrity."
Wow. There's something really powerful here, those words jumped off the page at me. Look, I'm not here to disparage anyone for chasing fame and however you define it. Being famous in and of itself is fine, great even. Some of us want to be successful, but not famous, while others want the constant adulation. Different strokes for different folks and all of that stuff. I just find it interesting that Denzel Washington, someone who is unquestionably a celebrity, would say that.
We are now years deep into the "famous for being famous" era and I love the fact that he's articulating how worthless it is to him. I know some people will read this and think, “Of course he can say that, he's already famous.” It's like the gorgeous woman that says looks don't matter. It comes off as disingenuous or, worse, ridiculous. But there's something to what he's saying. Mainly, that there's honor in restraint. All of your personal life should not be available for public consumption and wide scale ridicule. This movement of people who actually want to be judged and examined – all in hopes of using that 15 minutes of fame to snatch their piece of the pie – is baffling. It's cool for Denzel to speak on this in such candid terms.