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ARTIST HERO:
TOM SHADYAC
by Kayla from San Diego

Tom sitting outside of the 17,000 square foot man (www.oprah.com)
The movie experience: sitting in a theater with stained red chars, sticky floors, gum under the armrest, and popcorn in hand. While waiting for something to initiate, the lights gradually dim, and the screen illuminates with that something that has the power to tug on the heart strings of many to make people laugh, make them cry, or even scream. The people with the ability to take control of emotions like that, if only momentarily, are called directors. Directors are responsible for making the movie experience as phenomenal as it is today. Tom Shadyac is one apart of that community of artists called directors, because he is man behind Even Almighty, Bruce Almighty, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Nutty Professor, and so much more. Right out of college, Tom showed signs of great comedic promise when he became the youngest writer to ever work for Bob Hope in 1944 (About Tom). From there, he moved on to bigger and better things to make a career for himself rolling out movie after movie, never failing to be a box office hit. All of his success translated into million dollar mansions, private jets and top of the line cars. (Addiego/From Multimillionaire). But Tom’s real prestige comes from what he’s doing today, and how it’s impacting the world. “In his latest project, a documentary entitled I AM, Shadyac asks from some of today’s most profound thinkers two questions- What’s wrong with our world and what can we do about it?...” (About Tom). Today, by stepping out of his comedic comfort zone, Shadyac is taking a step in the right direction. Tom Shadyac is the director who brought laughs and smiles to the faces of make people with his blockbuster movies. But in all seriousness, he’s the director who is also a hero because of his humanitarianism, his humility, and his ability to be a true inspiration.

Movie poster for Shadyac's documentary
Tom is not only a success through his camera, but through his selfless humanitarianism as well. It all started in 2007, when Tom endured a tragic bike accident that triggered something inside of him. In an interview with Oprah he explains the beginnings of his journey and says “ ‘Facing my own death brought a sense of clarity and purpose,’ he says in his film. ‘If I was, indeed, going to die, I asked myself: What did I was to say before I went? It became very simple and very clear. I wanted to tell people what I had come to know. And what I had come to know is that the world I was living in was a lie,’” (From Multimillionaire). The fact that a majorly wealthy director’s “dying wish” was to do something that would benefit the greater good is commendable because it’s uncommon for such a man to be so generous in his thoughts and actions. In his efforts to make his wish for humanity to come true, he created the Foundation for I AM, or FFIA. On the website for FFIA, it reads: “Ultimately, the goal of the Foundation for I AM is to help usher in a more loving, kind, compassionate, and equitable world for all.” (About Tom). Tom is a philanthropist who now uses his money for a charity that focuses on the simplicity of love and kindness. Admiration sprouts up from all of Shadyac’s acts of kindness because of his goal for a more compassionate and equitable world. If his goal was reached, then the goals of every other humanitarian would be reached so much easier and faster. A hero is someone who recognizes what’s wrong in society, and does what they can to solve the problems; moreover, they’re role models and blessings in our world. Tom Shadyac is that hero, that blessing, because of his altruistic philanthropy.

Tom feels compelled to use a bike instead of poll
With all the success of his movies and charity, Shadyac still stays a modest man with substantial values. Tom’s accomplishments include numerous movies, many awards, and large amounts of money. But those don’t seem to matter, as he puts so insightfully in his own words through his blog: “Simply put, I no longer want to stand on top of the movie-making heap and declare that I am the most valuable, and therefore worth more. I only want to take what I need and give the remainder to those in need.” No matter what Tom Shadyac does, his worth can always be measured in his humility because by not wanting to be recognized as the best, he is just that. He is valuable through his modesty because many people can achieve greatness, but not everyone can be reserved and say that they don’t want to be glorified and that they just want what they need. Another snippet from Tom’s blog says “St. Augustine said, ‘Determine what God has given you, and take from it what you need, the remainder is needed by others.’ That’s my philosophy in a nutshell…” (Shadyac). This is where his values play an enormous part in why Tom Shadyac is a hero. If his philosophy is all about laying out God’s blessings and only taking what is needed, then there is no doubt in my mind that that Shadyac is a hero because he is not only doing themselves a favor by not being a hoarder, but doing the world a favor by sharing with the less fortunate. Modesty can also be looked at by a person’s lifestyle. Oprah Winfrey illustrates Tom Shadyac’s lifestyle on her show when she states, “As Tom journeyed on his quest to find out what would truly make him happy and help unearth what’s wrong with our world, he made major changes to his lifestyle. Today, Tom lives in a modest mobile home, bikes to work and flies commercial airplanes—and he says he’s never been happier.” (From Multimillionaire). Evidently, Shadyac continues to stay modest by living a simple life. Any person who can find happiness in the most humble of ways, like giving up their 17,000 square foot mansion (The Philadelphia) or take bikes to work, is heroic because they don’t let their pride get in the way of their happiness. By swallowing his pride, Shadyac manages to live a humble lifestyle, and keep his values in check, despite the lifestyle he could’ve been living with his entire collection of achievements.

Tom's an inspiration for his optimism for peace i
“ ‘We have a very extrinsic model of success,’ he explains. ‘You have to have a certain job status, a certain amount of wealth. …I think true success is intrinsic… It’s love. It’s kindness. It’s community.’” Tom shares his opinions in his Oprah interview. With this, Tom Shadyac is an inspiration because he cares about humanity. He cares about it as a whole, working together to live harmoniously. He cares, despite our “extrinsic” perspectives on life. Also, Tom’s take on what real success is, is so optimistic that it inspires others to have a paradigm shift into that optimistic outlook too. All in all, Tom Shadyac directs the movie of his life with him as the hero, and his philanthropy and humility as his sidekicks; likewise, he’s bringing the movie experience to life.



Written by Kayla from San Diego
Last changed on: 5/25/2011

I AM site The official website for Shadyac's profound documentary

From Multimillionaire to Mobile Home Oprah Winfrey's interview with Tom.

Winfrey, Oprah. ""From Multimillionaire to Mobile Home." ." [Online] Available Oprah.com. . 2011.

Shadyac, Tom. "Tom’s Blog." . Foundation For I Am

Walter, Addiego. ""An over-examined life." ." 4 Mar. 2011. 2011.

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