Today is February 27 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you get on the bus?” In a June 3, 2014 interview with Don Lemon on CNN, actor Morgan Freeman said talked about his strategy and how he navigated the chaos. For Freeman, “Wealth and genetics do not have anything to do with each other. If you are born in the United States it really does not matter the condition of your birth. What matters is what you inherit from your nurturing. Now I'm speaking from someone who had very little. You can always get out of that. I was born in Memphis TN and had a long haul to get to here; but here we are.” When Lemon told Freeman that not everyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps and do the work necessary for the ‘long haul,’ Freedman paused, and then replied “bullshit, everybody can. Courage is the key to life itself. There are a lot of people born into situations and they say to themselves ‘I'll never get out of it,’ they won’t. When those people say: ‘I wish I had done something, but I could never get out of here.’ I tell them ‘man, the bus runs every day.’”
The ’bus runs every day.’ Think about that for a moment. Are you aware of the bus? Are you waiting for it? When it comes by will you get on it? Or will you wait for the next one? Do you watch the bus go by as others get on it as they put in the work required to translate one dream after another into reality? What are you waiting for? What frightens you about getting on the bus?
Morgan Freeman was born on June 1, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee. As an infant, Freeman was sent to his paternal grandmother in Charleston, Mississippi. He moved frequently during his childhood, living in Greenwood, Mississippi; Gary, Indiana; and finally, Chicago, Illinois. He made his acting debut at age nine. At age 12, he won a statewide drama competition merely by happenstance as his participation in the junior high drama was punishment for pulling the chair out from under a girl Barbara that he was attracted to. As Freeman recalled "We do this play about a family with a wounded son just home from the war. We win the state championship, and dadgummit, I'm chosen as best actor. All because I pulled that chair out from under Barbara."
Freeman graduated high school in 1955 but turned down a partial drama scholarship from Jackson State University, opting instead to enlist in the United States Air Force and served as an Automatic Tracking Radar Repairman, rising to the rank of Airman 1st Class. After four years in the military, he moved to Los Angeles, California, and took acting classes at the Pasadena Playhouse, dancing lessons in San Francisco, and worked as a transcript clerk at Los Angeles City College. He also studied theatre arts at the college, where a teacher encouraged him to embark on a career in dance. Freeman worked as a dancer at the 1964 World's Fair and was a member of the Opera Ring musical theatre group in San Francisco.
Success was slow in coming for Freeman. He eventually moved to New York City in the early Sixties and supported himself with a series of day jobs while auditioning for theatrical roles. He acted in a touring company version of The Royal Hunt of the Sun and appeared as an extra in Sidney Lumet's 1965 drama film The Pawnbroker starring Rod Steiger. Between acting and dancing jobs, Freeman realized that acting was where his heart lay. "After [The Royal Hunt of the Sun], my acting career just took off", he later recalled. Freeman made his Off-Broadway debut in 1967, opposite Viveca Lindfors in a show about the Freedom Riders during the American Civil Rights Movement, before debuting on Broadway in 1968's all-black version of Hello, Dolly! which also starred Pearl Bailey and Cab Calloway.
His role in Hello Dolly led to the role of hip, good-humored Easy Reader on the children's TV show The Electric Company, in which he appeared from 1971 to 1976. In 1980, Morgan landed a part opposite Robert Redford in Brubaker and seven years later won his first Oscar nomination for a supporting role as the volatile pimp Fast Black in Street Smart. Then came 1989's Driving Miss Daisy. Morgan's portrayal of the good-natured chauffeur a character he had also played on stage brought him a Best Actor Oscar nomination and finally made him a star.
It took Freeman a ‘long-haul’ to get to star status. He got on the bus for decades to keep moving from one acting job to another. The fact that acclaim came late in life does not bother the actor. "Success comes when it comes," says Morgan. "I had a career for 30 years; a 30-year career is not bad. I often think I'm probably lucky that I wasn't a wild success early on, coming up through the 1970s. I could have very easily burned out."
How often do you get on the bus?