What are the qualities that make men and women mega-stars? Hollywood reporter Jeanne Wolf says she knows the answer.
After years of experience interviewing America's most famous personalities for television shows like Entertainment Tonight, Wolf said she's discovered several characteristics are common among the stars.Wolf, who spoke to a group of Brigham Young University communications students Thursday in the Harris Fine Arts Center, said that though it's true most highly successful people have a lot of skill, they also have boundless energy for their work, they never give up and they take advantage of whatever luck comes their way.
"We have to recognize that there are some people who are born with gifts, but then it becomes a matter of what they do with their gifts," she said. "Luck walks in our door everyday and sometimes we don't see it. We get the breaks and sometimes we don't realize we're not jumping at luck."
Big stars don't seem even to notice how much energy they are expending on their work, Wolf said. They have a kind of self-confidence mixed with a healthy dose of self-doubt.
"I notice that the people who are good at what they do have enormous energy for that thing. They're not necessarily energetic people overall," she said.
All that effort leads to developing skill in their craft, she said. That's essential, but it is possible to concentrate too much on technical excellence, because sometimes the most talented people are overlooked. That's why few people can become stars without a good share of tenacity.
"You gotta get good at what you do, but with all of your gifts, the world is not necessarily waiting with a red carpet."
Wolf said actress/singer Cher once sat in the back of a movie theater watching the audience's reaction to her first movie, "Silkwood." When the actress' name appeared in the credits the audience laughed. But Cher didn't give up and she won an Academy Award in 1988 for her role in "Moonstruck."
"Tenacity isn't saying you never get discouraged. It means, `no' means `not yet.' It really bothers me that sometimes we think the goodies are for other people, not for us," Wolf said. "Part of my notion is that wherever I go I want to remind people to not just look up, look in the mirror. I'm not talking about just being a name. I'm talking about a way of living."
In addition to her regular appearances on Entertainment Tonight, Wolf is a contributing editor to Redbook magazine and has published celebrity profiles in Cosmopolitan, Ladies' Home Journal and McCall's.
She has been called one of the best interviewers in the business. She said it is important to do your homework, get to know the person before you talk to them and then clear your mind of biases.
"The most important thing about being a good interviewer is that you really want to know the answers. If you're not dying to know the answers, your questions will reflect that. Your style will reflect that. Maybe you're in the wrong business.
"I love being a communicator," Wolf said. "I think the best part of what I do is that because of my profession, I'm permitted to stare. I'm looking into the mental cabinets of other people's minds."