Robert De Niro tells graduates ‘you’re f***ed’ in speech: rude or realistic?

Robert DeNiro

Robert De Niro delivered the graduation speech to NYU’s Tisch School of Arts class of 2015. He’s still considered a “get” for such events, even though he’s coasted through his last 20 movies (Silver Linings Playbook included). People still think of De Niro in iconic Taxi Driver terms, which is understandable. He used this opportunity to deliver an atypical speech. Most graduation speakers aim to be inspirational, but De Niro told it to these students straight. The job market is a tough one for many fields but especially for the arts. NYU tuition is outrageously high, and most of these students will be paying off student loans for three-decade terms (no joke). Even if these graduates were lucky enough to not mortgage their lives, they still face dire career prospects. Here’s a partial transcript of the speech:

Tisch graduates, you made it. And you’re f*cked. Think about that. The graduates from the college of nursing? They all have jobs. The graduates from the college of dentistry? Fully employed. The Leonard N. Stern school of business graduates? They’re covered. The school of medicine graduates? Each one will get a job. The proud graduates of the NY school of law? They’re covered. And if they’re not, who cares? They’re lawyers. The English majors are not a factor. They’ll be home writing their novels. The teachers, they’ll all be working. Sh*tty jobs, lousy pay. But they’ll be working. The graduates in accounting? They all have jobs. Where does that leave you, envious of those accountants? I doubt it. They had a choice. Maybe they were passionate about accounting, but I think it’s more likely that they used reason and logic and common sense to reach for a career that could give the expectation of success and stability. Reason, logic, common sense … at the Tisch School of Arts … are you kidding me? You discovered a talent, developed an ambition, and recognized your passion. When you feel that you can’t fight it, you just go for it. When it comes to the arts, passion should always trump common sense … yeah, you’re f***ed. The good news is, that’s not a bad place to start … How do you cope with it? I hear that Valium and Vicodin work.”

[From Youtube]

Here’s video footage of the speech with a warning for NSFW language:

De Niro also shares his own experiences with rejection. He joked about auditioning for the Martin Luther King role in Selma to illustrate his point. LMAO.

Overall, this speech wasn’t out of line. These students know they chose a difficult field to crack, but they were still driven to pursue a career in performing arts. Director Eli Roth holds a Tisch film school degree. He once remarked that he’s the only grad from his class who carved out a living in the field. So De Niro’s speech is slightly brutal, but he speaks the truth. Heck, I listened to multiple professors say the same stuff during lectures, and this was for a field that many consider marketable (even though it’s not). Most Tisch grads knew the drill long before they applied to college. This speech was comic relief for something that they’ve worried about for years.

Robert DeNiro

Robert DeNiro

Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet & WENN

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107 Responses to “Robert De Niro tells graduates ‘you’re f***ed’ in speech: rude or realistic?”

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  1. LVN says:

    Loved his speech. He is speaking truth. It’s going to be hard for almost any theatre or arts or communications arts major to get their foot in the door at first. ..,unless they have connections.

    • Dirty Martini says:

      Me too. He spoke the truth on all levels. Good for him. Don’t even mind the use of the f-bomb given who he is , given where he was speaking, etc.

      I will say the speech does have a tad of self congratulatory hubris about their bravery for following a futile dream……….but hey, I’m retired at 56 by being meek and following the logical choice. What do I know?

    • Jadzia says:

      What an asshat. Oh, it’s so FUNNY to hear a rich man joke about how screwed we are! Nope.

  2. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I don’t have a problem with the overriding theme of the speech, except it’s a little bit of a humble brag about how artists are so much braver or more noble somehow than people in other professions, when they actually are often jerks who want attention and fame. And I say the f word. I just don’t like the fact that it’s ok to use language like that in such a formal setting. We have just gotten so gross.

    • Sara says:

      Well, if a little humblebrag makes them feel better about serving us coffee in a restaurant, what’s the harm there?

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Lol, you have a point. I’m just a little tired of actors patting themselves on the back all the time, you know? Doctors, social workers, teachers, garbage collectors and thousands of others who help us don’t have award shows on TV where they spend four hours telling each other how wonderful they are. It just annoys me.

      • Bridget says:

        I’m with Sara on this one. He’s speaking to a group of people that just paid $250K to go out and wait tables.

      • perplexed says:

        I’m not being facetious, but is that really how much a Tisch School of the Arts degree costs?

        Other arts degrees like English and History can at least land you a job in any industry that requires writing and editing skills and is not necessarily location-specific, and you can also create your own opportunities in those fields even if you don’t look like Brad Pitt. But I assume people who do an NYU Tisch Arts degree are aiming for Hollywood, and that’s where I find the cost of their degree and why they chose to pursue it highly problematic. How many actors at DeNiro’s level of success have bothered to pay that much for an acting degree? Does DeNiro even have one? Other factors play into the success of a Hollywood actor or (possibly even director, if Michael Bay’s success is anything to go by). Yeah, I think his speech mostly made sense if we factor in the cost of how much the students paid at that particular institution. Do the students at NYU Tisch at least benefit from networking opportunities that can help them meet the “right” people in Hollywood?

      • Bridget says:

        Perplexed: NYU is one of the most expensive schools in the nation, and tuition, room & board runs about $70,000 a year. I even double checked!

      • Josefa says:


        You do notice he’s talking about the other 99.99% of the acting industry, right? For every story of success in Hollywood there’s a thousand of failures. Heck, not even an Oscar nom means you’re safe from being unemployed a couple of years later.

      • perplexed says:


        Thanks for checking.

        I don’t think I have a problem with what they majored in as much as what they spent to get that major. The cost is boggling my mind!

    • Kiddo says:

      I think it’s offset by the fact that he said the others made choices where they can reasonably expect to be gainfully employed. Going into art is A LEAP OF FAITH, where there is too much competition and far too few positions, and many times at shitty pay. Hence the, “You’re f__ked”. I disagree that The English Majors are in any better position, though. I’m not put off by the F word. For better or for worse, it is commonly used, and NYC art students would not be shocked by it. He’s an actor, not a statesman, politician, etc. The decorum is at a different level of expectation. He was making his speech to ART SCHOOL GRADUATES, that’s why so much focus on the arts. This wasn’t the case where it was a university with mixed majors. I’m not feeling the outrage.

      There are “jerks” in every field.

      • LVN says:

        Well said Kiddo, I totally agree. His speech spoke many truths.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        True. I was an English major and everybody always told me it was a great “foundation” major. It wasn’t. Lol. And I’m a total hypocrite about the f word. I say it almost every day, at least to myself. I was just thinking his audience probably included children and grandparents, so I wouldn’t have said it,and truthfully, I wish everyone, including me didn’t say it, but we do, so it’s sort of silly of me to object.

      • perplexed says:

        I think they have taken a leap of faith, but a lot of actors like Julia Roberts or George Clooney also took a leap of faith but didn’t pay to go to acting school and yet they succeeded. So that’s where I think paying this much for that kind of degree could be looked at a bit strangely. I think an English (or any other humanities) degree can land you somewhere if you can market yourself well on your resume. Not so sure about acting, which requires charisma, good looks, perception (and luck) as much as talent.

        I don’t doubt that acting requires a unique set of skills that must be honed in some kind of environment (and learned from good teachers to improve on natural talent), but maybe Robert DeNiro is wondering, just like me, whether these people overpaid for their degrees. I did a humanities degree but didn’t spend that kind of money to get it. So at least that’s some consolation to me…

      • Bridget says:

        Oops, wrong spot.

      • lukie says:

        As a NYer and Alumnus of NYU, love his speech. I just finished telling someone that I hope Tisch graduates have rich parents because that is a very expensive degree to have just to wait tables, because that is what most of them will be doing.

        My big fat NYU degree is in nutrition and boy do I wish I had finished at a CUNY instead and I say that as an NYU scholarship recipient.

      • Montréalaise says:

        GoodNamesAllTaken – actually, being an English major was a great foundation several decades ago, when only a small percentage of people attended university and English majors could easily get jobs in industries which were doing very well, such as the publishing industry (newspapers, books, magazines). Nowadays, there’s a lot more competition and far fewer entry-level jobs.

      • Phat girl says:

        I would hope that these art degrees would prepare them to be gainfully employed behind the scenes and not just in front of the cameras. Just like my business degree has afforded me a bright future as a secretary when I figured out I was not willing to lie, cheat, back stab, and climb over others to get ahead. I mean it’s not like the Kardashians are dripping with talent or education and their seventeen year old just bought a mansion in Beverly Hills. I guess if their goal is to be “famous” than they are fu**ed for spending their money on education instead of plastic surgery.

    • Miss M says:

      The humblebrag was a bit much, but that’s what they do and that’s ehy they have so many awards to tell how great they are…

      Using reason and logic, i could never be an accountant or IT . I am not great at math. I use on a day basis at work, but i don’t excell in it. Every profession has its strenghts (some more than others). I agree that nursing, business and engineering have better employment rates.

      • LVN says:

        True every profession has its stengths and weaknesses.

      • perplexed says:

        I didn’t really think he was humble bragging. After looking at estimated expenses on the NYU website for the 2015-2016 school year, I actually thought he was helping them come to terms that they might have spent way too much! And I say this as someone who respects the arts a lot…

        I don’t think Robert DeNiro spent that much money to get to where he is. He reaped the benefits of being an actor without paying that kind of tuition!!!

    • Kiddo says:

      I just remembered that you worked for a law firm at some point. Meh, the lawyers jokes are a cliched trope.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Yeah, I’m used to them. They don’t bother me. It bothers when people are serious about it and say all lawyers are bad, but the jokes are just jokes, so I even laugh at them sometimes. My husband is a lawyer, and he collects lawyer jokes, so I sort of blow it off.

    • Michelle says:

      @GoodNamesAllTaken – I fully agree with both of your comments. Can’t stand how actors are always worshipping themselves and each other as if it’s so noble and brave that they don’t join the real world like the rest of us and they play make believe for a living. I was going to write pretty much the same exact thing you did in your first comment; I don’t like how he found it necessary to compare actors to graduates in other fields as if somehow people who chose a more realistic path are somehow less passionate. His information was also inaccurate when he rattled off about how all of these new graduates will find jobs. Maybe eventually, but the job market out there for new grads is horrible. This includes nurses, lawyers, and accountants, 3 of the fields he mentioned. I can speak from experience about nurses because I am one, and there are people moving all over the country to find employment because the rate of baby boomers that can’t retire is so high causing jobs for new grads to be nonexistent. I’m really puzzled as to why he would refer to teaching as a shitty job, but OK. It’s actually pretty funny since I’ve always considered teaching a job one needs a passion to pursue.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        I feel for all new graduates. He’s wrong at least about the legal field – it isn’t all that easy right now.

      • Miss M says:

        I didn’t know it was getting tough for nurses too. I think maybe in Boston they benefit for being surrounded by hospitals.

        I agree with uou about teachers. They educate everyone and don’t receive the accolades (and salaries) they rightfully deserve. Then, you see a bunch of uneducated and self-centered actors making millions of dollars for one movie alone…

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        I agree with you both about teachers, too. Meant to say that.

      • Kiddo says:

        Yeah, the legal field is only BOOMING for politically connected firms, those long term, well established ones, and for legislators. It sucks for anyone else starting out with a boatload of debt.

        For what it’s worth, This is my take on the speech: Most people think the idea of studying art as a major is idiotic. That’s a cliched trope, like the lawyer jokes. The crappy job as a teacher, I think, just means the people are burdened and treated like crap by parents, some students, and gov’t trying to kill unions and public education altogether. It wasn’t an indictment of teachers or the teaching profession.

        This speech was like a stream of consciousness response to everything an art student gets questioned about, in why they are NOT studying for other ‘real’ jobs, and the internal answers they all make.

        It’s not to say that the other jobs are BAD, but that they would be bad for these graduates. It’s the rationalizations for the choices made in an impossible major and a ridiculously thin industry.

        How many times have you heard people ask, “What are you going to do with an art degree? Your kid’s an art major? Oh, sorry. What’s he gonna do when he gets out of school?”

        It was like an inside joke, not intended as an insult to people who make other choices.

      • Bridget says:

        Somehow law school became the default option for folks that weren’t quite sure what they wanted to do, career wise, and now there is a glut of law school graduates. It amazed me how many people attended figuring “a law degree is so versatile, I can do anything”.

      • perplexed says:

        I think it’s possible he thinks the performing arts students might be more passionate simply because of the amount they spent on the degree since NYU Tisch is expensive. I wonder if a student who payed for the same kind of degree but at another (respected enough) school, and for much less, might be looked at as being more logical.

      • moodgirl says:

        @Bridget – I think it’s the same with MBAs and MPAs. They are a dime a dozen, especially from lower tier schools, but everyone thinks those degrees are a magic bullet if they can’t find a job anywhere else. No more.

  3. Sheil says:

    I totally get his speech, but definitely wrong venue to be so brash, negative and baggy about pursuing a life as an artist. We all know we should follow our passions, blah, blah, but sometimes that does not pay the rent! So, be realistic and for goodness sake, show some respect Mr De, for those people that pick worthy professions. I am teacher with “lousy pay” but I feel good about my contribution to society.

    • judyjudyjudy says:

      No it wasn’t. he was saying that if you chose these direction you did it is because you have a passion that is beyond money and a comfortable financial life.

      Being a teacher, if you are a good one, is indeed a nobel cause. and I laud you. But it isn’t risky per se. You get health insurance and a pension. I would also note that you misunderstood him pretty badly so I hope you don’t teach communications.

      • mystified says:


      • Michelle says:

        @judyjudyjudy – you can’t even spell noble and you’re going to try to be snarky?

        @Sheil – Totally agree with you about people being realistic and pursuing jobs that can actually help them live and provide for themselves, although I know a lot of people don’t like to hear that. In today’s society, people just cannot afford to decide that now is the time to pursue their dream of a PhD in basket weaving. This is exactly why our society has so many unemployed college graduates with at least $20,000 in debt. There has always been this false notion that we can be anything we want to be, and I’m sure this comment will be mistaken for cynicism, but it just isn’t true. In today’s society with the cost of living and amounts of debt both being so high, whether one is passionate or not they have to be able to provide for themselves.

      • perplexed says:

        A Phd is at least funded by the university (and if it wasn’t I don’t think it would be offered as a program). I don’t think it’s quite the same as doing an acting degree at Tisch for $250 000. Doing a Phd is fine if you’re willing to live at a certain level of wealth (or lack of it depending on how much funding you get – certain disciplines get more than others), and so long as you’re able to accept that you’ll have to move from academia to industry after completing it (where Phds are allowed to apply for jobs and their skills can be used). The problem with doing the Phd is more the social isolation you’ll face, and the lack of proper structure if you wind up with a terrible supervisor since you’re on your own to develop something. (And the problem of not finishing the degree when the funding ends. Most people who start want to finish). But money-wise, I don’t think it’s quite the same thing as spending so much money at NYU Tisch.

      • moodgirl says:

        If you don’t graduate with a “hands on” degree that makes you employable when you walk out of college – medicine, nursing, technology, analytics, engineering – good luck finding a job. I have a liberal arts degree and have to go back to get re-educated. A waste of time.

      • perplexed says:

        Medicine and being a doctor has been referenced as useful, but that’s also a discipline that requires you go back to school. You do a Bachelors in Biology or the like and then apply to med school.

        I think engineering might offer the most useful possibilities, but even then you have to pick the right kind of engineering that is in-demand at that point in time.

        I don’t think most degree majors are a problem so long as you don’t spend as much as the NYU Tisch kids did to get a degree. I could probably even find an acting degree useful so long as I didn’t know someone spent a quarter of a million dollars to get one.

    • LVN says:

      I love his speech. He’s not putting anyone down, just stating some truths.
      I agree an Arts degree is a risky profession because there are less concrete road maps of how to become gainfully employed.

  4. grabbyhands says:

    I thought it was great. It was fun but realistic at the same time-they are choosing a difficult field, as the arts is going through another period of being considered useless and suspect. But it is also an important time to be committed to making it. People need it whether they realize it or not.

    I wish more grad speeches were like this. I mean, they don’t have to be so gritty that everyone leaves feeling depressed, but it needs to be better than “you’re all special snowflakes and you should be able to get everything you want because you really want it”.

    • belle de jour says:

      Agree 100%.

      After four years, he was speaking to a hometown crowd who knew exactly what he was saying, and why he was saying it that way. It was straight talk – delivered with excellent timing, btw – played to a house that got it.

      I reckon I’ve been at it long enough to refuse to be an art apologist any more. I respect many professions, and I respect those who are called to make art theirs. It’s not always a contest. I need some dedicated, hardworking people to help make my life safe and practically possible; I need some dedicated, hardworking artists to help inspire my soul and spirit to soar.

    • ichsi says:

      Couldn’t agree more. This was a great speech, very Robert DeNiro and inspiring in its own way.

  5. msw says:


    • Pinky says:

      Might be crass, but he’s right.

    • SometimesFunny says:

      I disagree. It was the truth hidden in comedy. Ppl need truth and honesty, not to mention comedy is always good for the stomach. I think it was appropriate.

  6. Lili says:

    I like it.

    I think one of the best advice I’ve ever been given was to NOT do a PhD and stick with a BA. In my field (political science), it’s next to impossible to become a professor and the added value of having a PhD isn’t worth the effort.

    6 years later, my friends who got their PhD are struggling. And I’m not.

    Of course, it’s anecdotal. But I’m grateful to my professor to this day, for telling us THE TRUTH.

    • mystified says:

      +1. I bet many parents loved the speech too. Too many of the “Reach for the Stars” speeches are interpreted by graduates as “Don’t settle for entry level work. Continue to live on your parents’ dime until the perfect job comes your way.”

      • Lucky says:

        As a parent of a communication arts major who attends a very expensive private college in NYC, I am depressed at this speech. It’s realistic and I’ve tried to get my son the switch majors but he’s not having it. I fear DeNiro is right & their will be no jobs for him when he graduates.

      • Michelle says:

        @mystified – this is a great point. There are way too many “fluff” speeches given at commencements, and even all throughout people’s lives. Also, maybe not a popular sentiment but all of this “reach for the stars” talk is the reason so many graduates have useless degrees and are over $20,000 in student loan debt upon graduation. I’m sure many people in the graduating class De Niro spoke to will be in that same situation.

      • Hotpockets says:


        $20,000 in debt? You’re being generous. I think the average is now over $40,000.

      • Michelle says:

        @Hotpockets – I totally agree with you. I live in NYC area and the amount that’s always thrown around in articles and on the news is $20,000 which must be lowballing the figure to make it seem like things are better than they actually are. I know a lot of people who graduated with a lot more than $20k in debt.

      • Bridget says:

        @Lucky: this is going to sound heartless, but don’t pay for it. Or only pay what would be comparable to a state school, etc. Would he feel just as passionate about Communication Arts if it was on his own dime? What are you hoping he’s going to get out of his college experience? Just to be there, or to come out prepared to enter the adult world?

    • tweetie says:

      Can I ask you how was your journey after you graduated? I’m currently majoring in political science and I’m so scared of not finding a job after college, I also don’t really want to do a master/PhD. Thnks in advance XD

      • Lili says:

        Sorry for the long delay…

        Internships, internships, job at the Department of State. In short. 🙂

        Political science is a broad subejct and you may have trouble knowing where to go so try to specialize in something (I went for international security and defense). But don’t narrow your field so that you can still be flexible.

        And hang in there. You’re gonna be fine. 🙂

  7. Lilacflowers says:

    I give him credit for pointing out that teachers are underpaid.

    • lisa2 says:

      and being one for many years.. YES.. but then we knew that going in. I tell people that want to choose this profession. You have to love it. It has to be a passion that moves you. If you don’t have that then it will destroy you in ways people don’t understand. Teaching is never about the money; because we could all be doing jobs that pay more.

      You have to love it.

    • Michelle says:

      @Lilacflowers – I give you credit for putting a positive spin on that! Haha. I don’t like that he referred to it as a shitty job.

      @lisa2 – I fully agree with you. I’m a nurse and I say the same thing about nursing; don’t go into it for the money, and don’t go into it if you’re not really passionate about it or see it as just a regular job because you will end up disgruntled and miserable. It’s just so funny to me that De Niro would be giving a speech and name teaching as one of the careers he sees as less passionate than pursuing the arts, because to me, teaching is definitely one of those jobs you have to have a true passion for.

  8. Harv says:

    The speech works. I think that complaining about the language is a bit churlish given the gravity of the topic.

  9. bettyrose says:

    The English majors will be home writing novels? Actually, the ones who don’t have that luxury have probably already landed entry level jobs at one of a zillion publishing houses in NYC. Or parlayed their critical thinking skills into strong GRE scores and acceptance to grad school.

    • belle de jour says:

      Sadly, there are almost no publishing jobs left in NYC, of all places. As do many professions and industries, any traditional pub houses left have their pick of unpaid interns – who will do almost anything in this market for a legit resume cred – to fill what used to be entry-to-mid-level positions. That – combined with 24-hour disposable internet editorial content, cheap self- & e-book publishing, advertorial magazine content provided by marketers or PR and severely limited mainstream & niche imprint publishing runs (with the resultant lack of need for serious editors) – has made the image of a real editor or publisher in Manhattan as quaint as a Doris Day career girl movie. Almost every single real editor or writer or journalist I know here – still left standing, that is – is freelance or contract, by necessity.

      Some turn to advertising, marcom, corp pubs, PR. Several younger ones delay the inevitable unemployment in their chosen field by going straight into grad school. But something that never seems to change: each one I know – young and eager, older and jaded – “yeah, yeah,” has “a book they’ve been working on.”

      I love my fellow English & Comp Lit & Art majors 🙂

      • bettyrose says:

        Belle, that’s interesting. I guess I should have known that from reading Gone Girl. As a recent grad, I was offered a very low paid job at a publisher in NYC but couldn’t afford to move there so I took a better paying job in the city where I lived. But it seriously grates on me to hear people act like the English degree isn’t geared towards working. Admittedly I went on to grad school pretty quickly, but the English degree prepared me well for that kind of life. No regrets.

      • Kiddo says:

        @ belle de jour

        Stewie (played by Leo DiCaprio): How you uh, how you comin’ on that novel you’re working on? Huh? Gotta a big, uh, big stack of papers there? Gotta, gotta nice little story you’re working on there? Your big novel you’ve been working on for 3 years? Huh? Gotta, gotta compelling protagonist? Yeah? Gotta obstacle for him to overcome? Huh? Gotta story brewing there? Working on, working on that for quite some time? Huh? (voice getting higher pitched) Yea, talking about that 3 years ago. Been working on that the whole time? Nice little narrative? Beginning, middle, and end? Some friends become enemies, some enemies become friends? At the end your main character is richer from the experience? Yeah? Yeah? (voice returns to normal) No, no, you deserve some time off.

    • P[OK9? says:

      bettyrose: I’m with you, sister. An English/lit degree prepares you for almost anything.


  10. lisa2 says:

    I thought it was a great speech. Sometime you go with your passion. Even when you know the road is going to be difficult. Hard to thing to do. Especially when you are young and the world is pointing in another direction. Which is why we have people that were in the “safe job” quitting at some point and doing that thing they always dreamed of doing.

    We are all f***** in one way or another. But we keep going.

    • LVN says:

      +10000. So true, I agree.

      IMO People who major in what they truly desire, whether it be the Arts or Law or teaching all have degrees which are valuable. I get peeved when people somehow put down those with Ats degrees.

  11. LAK says:

    I enjoyed this speech.

  12. PoliteTeaSipper says:

    Believe me, arts majors get shit on enough IRL, what he said won’t be anything new.

    Fwiw my husband is a band director, I’m a musician, and we’re doing just fine, thank you. Neither of us moved back in with our parents after graduation (my parents haven’t even been in my life since I was 16, so I didn’t take a dime from them before, during, or after college.) But you wouldn’t believe how many snarky comments I get about how I don’t “deserve” to drive a 14 year old sports coupe because my husband is a teacher. Apparently living in a box on welfare is the only acceptable living situation if you want to make your living in the arts.

    • bettyrose says:

      I think a lot of people work to consume. Their jobs are unfulfilling so they convince themselves the paycheck is worth it and spend all weekend at the mall. So your life probably enrages them. Where do you get off being fulfilled by what you do rather than what you own?

    • Lilacflowers says:

      I taught for a while. The attitude of many is that they get to dictate how teachers live because “my tax dollars pay your salary.” As if teachers don’t pay taxes too. And you’re supposed to be willing to teach their poorly behaved brats for free just for the honor of it.

      • bettyrose says:

        Lilacflowers, I know two middle school teachers who burned out after just a few years because of abuse from parents, even though they adored the children they taught. Oh, and one high school teacher who walked out for good when a student threatened to bring his gun to school to settle a grade dispute.

      • India Andrews says:

        +100 to both your comments.

        I would add some people criticize teachers for the amount of time they have off every year. I would propose they consider the crap a teacher deals with on a yearly basis before they judge. You need the time off to keep from killing yourself, a parent, an administrator or a student.

  13. MsTak says:

    There must be passion in anything. Anyine can be a nurse but if you do not have the passion to serve people then you will not provide the care that is needed. Same with Those who teach. At this point, any career has its risks. I’m graduating in a year and already have over 40k in loans for nursing BSN.

    • bettyrose says:

      No, not anyone. Nursing has a huge ick factor. Anyone who cringes at the mere thought of interacting with blood & feces cannot be a nurse, regardless of their drive. Good entry level salaries though. And high demand for now.

      • Michelle says:

        @bettyrose – I’m a nurse too and I think you’re misunderstanding what MsTak is implying when she says “anyone can be a nurse.” I believe she means more along the lines of you can train just about anyone to do what a nurse does, but if you don’t have a passion for it, you’re going to 1) hate your job 2) treat your patients terribly and resent them, and 3) be terrible at it. For example, when we hear of cases of elder abuse in nursing homes, it’s usually because the “nurse” who was caring for that person didn’t really have a passion for the job, thought “anyone can do this” and grew to resent their patient and became abusive.

        Also – the high demand for nurses is projected for the future, not currently. The economy is crappier than the media likes to let on, and nursing is one of the fields with very few job openings for new grads because so many baby boomers can’t afford to retire. The rate for job openings is expected to really explode and open up when baby boomers are forced to no longer work. I know many nurses who graduated in the last few years who had to move to other states or take other jobs because they couldn’t find employment as a nurse for a few years. One key point that De Niro seems unaware of is that a lot of people are “fucked,” not just actors. New grads in almost all fields are struggling to find work. My exboyfriend graduated as an engineer, and despite all the talk of how STEM jobs are so in demand, he couldn’t find anything but unpaid internships that don’t count as experience for over 2 years. I keep hearing these magical figures about how jobs are being created and unemployment rates are so low, but college graduates in all fields are struggling. This is why the debate of, “is a degree really worth it?” is being brought up all over again.

        @MsTak – I agree with you that nursing and teaching are 2 fields that require passion, but many people argue against that point.

      • MsTak says:

        @michelle yes that’s exactly what I meant. Of course there are those who won’t be able to handle what nursing care requires but you can train people to do it and they will do the actions–to actually care requires passion. In my opinion and that of many others. When people go into nursing “for the money” then they are doing no favors for themselves nor their patients. It’s not an environment that’s easy to deal with if you hate everything about it. And… As only a student I’ve been exposed to several areas for short periods of time for clinical and even within nursing there are areas where I can’t see myself doing my best despite higher pay,etc.
        I’m sure I’ll have greater insight once I actually find** a job 😂

  14. Me too says:

    One year in and my business degree has already paid for itself. Here’s an idea… don’t go to an expensive fancy private school to get a worthless degree. There. Done. Although, this speech may have been more beneficial at a high school graduation.

    • P[OK9? says:

      Wow. You sound incredibly and unnecessarily smug. But congratulations on succeeding on your terms.

      As I said on an earlier thread: Thank goodness we all have and heed different callings, and that some of us still dare to approach likely career insecurity with professional dedication & training nonetheless. I think your idea of a “worthless” degree is a qualitative & quantitative judgement that’s perhaps best measured by – and reserved for – the people who actually choose to pursue and pay for it.

      • belle de jour says:

        Sorry, my pet really did step all over the keyboard and manage to change my moniker to P[OK9? – which actually sounds more intriguing – but my usual one is belle de jour. Just wanted to own my comment.

  15. Snappyfish says:

    The speech was great. Funny, smart & realistic. Most people know what they are in for & a lovely acknowledgement of you did it & now what beats the superfluous BS that fills most graduation speeches these days!!

  16. Jayna says:

    I absolutely loved his speech.

    He has coasted. He just takes pretty much anything now for the money but not balanced really with meatier roles

  17. Chibichchai says:

    He’s not wrong. I went to NYU and the joke about the Tisch kids was they were “the future janitors of tomorrow” (don’t worry, the kids of the college of arts and sciences could not add or subtract, CAS, and that we were the school of undecided majors) the one thing I wish NYU stressed was (aside from managing personal finances) is that going to a good name school does not translate into a golden ticket to your dream job, it just can potentially open a door to get there. The rest is still grueling hard work that you find no matter what school you went to.

    I also think what he meant by nurses and lawyers having jobs is that the job prospects in those fields are better than what the Tisch students are facing. The job market might be 70% but that is still better than the possible 10% (I’m guessing. I have no idea what the hiring rates for the fields Tisch caters to) for Tisch graduates.

    However they had to apply to get into Tisch so those graduates knew what they were getting themselves into, as should any graduate of any field. I think DeNiro was driving that point home because it’s about to get real.

  18. L says:

    I loved his speech. People are saying “These kids knew what they were getting into” but I’m not 100% convinced. Every ‘actor’ I’ve ever met thinks they’re the next De Niro/Pacino/Streep and that it’s really going to happen for them. No one spends that much money & time on school just to wait tables for the rest of their lives. No one does anything like that in hopes of not being successful. They must really believe that it’s going to happen, and he was right in letting them know that they’re f*cked. Who knows, maybe some of them will be successful, but the truth is that most of them will now be in debt for an ‘education’ that is gonna do nothing for them. But hey, if that’s what they want, no one can stop them.

    • perplexed says:

      Do the kids who enrol at Tisch aim to be stars? If so, then, yes, I agree with Deniro that they’re screwed.

      If they’re willing to go into teaching to pass on their craft to students at a performing arts school or college, then I think they can find the same prospects as the rest of us. If not, then I predict most will end up less successful career-wise than Joey Tribiani (although it does seem that they have a lot of famous alumni…still, the tuition seems way too steep to take that kind of gamble. And the ones who did make it like Debra Messing probably would have made it without the degree since star quality factors in casting).

  19. Jen43 says:

    The speech was great. I bet the grads loved it. I taught for 13 years and loved my job. The pay was awful in the beginning, but the last few years was pretty good. If I had stayed instead of quitting after having my first child, I would have been making a great salary by now. In hind sight, I probably should have stayed; but the cost of child care plus the long commute was prohibitive.

  20. Hawkeye says:

    I’m a pastor. I went to a seminary. People thought I was insane. Some well-meaning people told me to pursue accounting or an engineering field for the financial and career stability. I would have been terrible in those fields and miserable. You can’t always pursue a certain career path; if you chose your profession and it worked out? Good for you, but you’re one person, not a representative sample. Also, let’s not be too hard on those working service jobs; there’s no shame in honest work, and the American economy didn’t crash because of a bunch of baristas with arts degrees.

    • Algernon says:

      “Also, let’s not be too hard on those working service jobs; there’s no shame in honest work, and the American economy didn’t crash because of a bunch of baristas with arts degrees.”

      Yes! This! Every time I hear people get snide about PhD candidates making their coffee or art school students bussing their tables, I say something like this. The problems with our economy are not because of people working in the service industry.

    • India Andrews says:

      I entered the teaching profession. My mom wanted a doctor or a businesswoman for the financial rewards (and bragging rights for herself among her friends). I finally in college told my mom I wasn’t becoming either because I suck at science and math and don’t want to do those jobs anyway. When my mom kept trying to pressure me I told her I would need the money from becoming a businesswoman or doctor for the therapy bills I would encounter because I pursued a career I didn’t like and I wasn’t very good at doing. Eventually she gave up. She was one of those pushy parents with very lofty ideas about her kids’ avilities and futures. It took her a long time to let go of what she thought I could do and would enjoy doing. She thought she knew me better than I know myself.

    • India Andrews says:

      I was in line in Westwood, Ca. at a donut store. The older man behind the counter was the store owner. This store had been there years. Kind of a local institution. Some newbie to the area in a suit who looked like he works in one of the high rise office towers told the owner, “Didn’t you ever want to do more with your life than ring up donut orders?” My jaw hit the floor. WTF?! This guy ringing up your order makes a good living owning this shop and even if he didn’t own the business what concern is it of yours what he does with his life?

      • Helen says:

        Word. I run a doctors office, and when we go out for drinks for work occasionally, some well meaning soul practically always chimes up- “oh, you seem wasted here, haven’t you thought about doing something more creative or owning your own business or something?”

        Yes I have, but here’s the thing, I have tried other things, but then I needed to make a living, so I took a steady job, and I think I do useful work here, even if I don’t get nobility points like the nurses and teachers tend to.

        I’m tired of people making me feel guilty because I didn’t take a leap of faith and find work I was passionate about.

        And most of the people I know who did that had Mummy and Daddy behind them, backing them up with finances. Which is fine you know, but there’s a lot of us wage slaves around making the best of things, and I don’t think we’re lesser people. At all.

  21. belle de jour says:

    bettyrose: I’m with you, sister. An English/lit degree prepares you for almost anything.


    • perplexed says:

      I think an English degree is useful, and you can apply to different kinds of jobs with it.

      I think it’s a little weird that people might conflate an English degree with an acting degree. People with English degrees don’t really aspire to be the next Sandra Bullock (i’m not counting Emma Watson).

      • anon321 says:

        Good luck.

      • perplexed says:

        Well, what I mean to say is that you can market around an English degree in the same way you can market around a biology or psychology degree (which theoretically aren’t really that useful either unless you go all the way to a Phd or MD, and for Phds then there’s still the potential for unemployment). Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel it might be harder to market around an acting degree in Hollywood if you don’t look like Brad Pitt, unless you want to teach acting?

        Robert DeNiro mentioned doctors being employed. But doctors in the United States still have to do a preliminary BSc or BA before moving on to the MD. You can’t just go from high school to an MD. And even the MD is kind of useless if you can’t pass the Board Exams. So in that sense I don’t think most degrees are any more of a ticket straight to a job right after graduation unless you go on to another kind of degree program post-BSc, like medical school or law school and then pass the licensing required for those professions.

        Maybe petroleum engineering can land you a job straight out of school. Otherwise, most majors are in the same boat as English majors and History majors. You either have to market your resume really well or go back to school that will give you some kind of professional orientation. And these types of majors do function in the real world (i.e Michael Eisner, CEO of Disney, has an English degree. A lot of lawyers have English degrees. Teachers have English degrees. So do copywriters, grant writers, proposal writers, etc). The problem seems to be more overall unemployment for all kinds of degrees rather than unemployment limited to one group of people. I’ve seen unemployed accountants, and ostensibly that’s supposed to be one of the more useful degrees you can get without going on to further education.

      • perplexed says:

        Nonetheless, I wouldn’t spend $250 000 on a Bachelors English degree like the Tisch School of Arts people did for an acting degree (unless I got a scholarship). I don’t think I would be willing to spend that kind of money on any first Bachelor’s degree just to say I went to a particular brand-name school. However, since I didn’t spend that kind of money when I went to school, maybe that’s why I don’t feel that a humanities degree is useless — I wasn’t overspending!

      • bettyrose says:

        But that 250k isn’t really for the degree. It’s for the experience. If you’re a residential student financing NYU on loans, chances are you’re not well connected in NYC your first day on campus. 4 years/250k later, presumably you have something of a foothold in New York. You know people, have done internships, know the trick for finding housing situations on a food service budget…plus, you’ve had an amazing, somewhat unique experience, a wonderful education, and a big name degree. Is it worth it? Clearly to some, yes.

      • perplexed says:

        Fair and true enough. If they want to pay for the experience, that’s fine and their prerogative. I just wouldn’t want to deal with the stress of thinking a loan that big. But I realize people are different. I stayed at home for university, and at the time I wished I could have gone away to school, but now that I’m facing other stresses in life as I get older I don’t really mind that I didn’t venture far away from my surroundings for the university experience. At the time it seemed like a big deal, but I’ve moved on to other worries which I think happens to most people (unfortunately).

      • bettyrose says:

        Perplexed, I feel ya. I applied to colleges based on affordability. In hindsight, I might have overlooked aid packages available at some pricier private schools, but I wanted to go to a state university. No lie, at 17 looking at schools, it really appealed to me to be on a giant campus to maximize potential for meeting new people, going to campus events, etc. Plus, I always knew I wanted to major in English, so it wasn’t like I had to look hard for a school with my major, and I loved the variety of GE classes offered every term at a large school. Like you, I have no regrets. 20K in loans is a world apart from 200K in loans.

      • Miss M says:

        @perplexed: it is much easier to get a job in the industry or research lab if you a BA in biology than a PhD. It is even better if you have a master’s. Once we get a PhD, thy tell us to apply for postdoctoral positions… The NIH based salary for a postdoctoral in biology (which means this person has a PhD) is $42k a year.

  22. Teri says:

    Did celebitchy cover George stephanopolous?

  23. elian says:

    I’m an NYU grad although not from Tisch and I only did my masters there. I started there in 2004 when it cost about $30k/attend. I took out some financial aid and had help from my parents. I’m now almost ten years out from graduating with a masters degree in the arts, and I can tell you even with my pretty sizable student loan debt, it was 100% worth it for me personally. It took me until 2012 to get a steady, well paying job in my field and I certainly did a lot of waiting tables, but I don’t regret it.

  24. Mispronounced Name Dropper says:

    We’re all f***ed. Reminds me of when I see high school graduates celebrating at the end of each year thinking that life is just going to keep getting better. But the reality is that to be young, lovec, accomplished and feeling optimistic about the future is as good as it’s ever going to get.

  25. moon says:

    How is this rude? He’s being realistic with a sense of humour. I’m a Tisch grad in NYC, everyone I know is a Tisch grad and yes, life is hard. But we’re also happy in our creative bubble.

  26. Algernon says:

    We would, as a society, be better off if we all admitted we don’t need everyone to enter the workforce. No matter what happens to the economy, year over year, since WWII, productivity has only ever gone up. In the last forty years (the computer/digital revolution), productivity has skyrocketed, even as the economy has bottomed out three times in my life time alone, including this current slump.

    With only minor tweaks that do not involve raising anyone’s taxes (most of it would be restructuring military funding to be more efficient, as we recently blew a trillion dollars on a fighter jet no one is using), we could give every adult in the US of working age a stipend, as well as subsidized housing and free health care. Would you live in a mansion? No, you’d be in a small house/apartment. Would you have a car? Probably not. Could you sit home and write songs or whatever without worrying about your bills? Yes.

    As much as you, me, and everyone makes fun of hipsters, I think they’ve figured something out the rest of us haven’t. They’ve figured out how to live on less work. I live in a neighborhood populated by hipsters, most of whom are underemployed, or getting by on infrequent freelance gigs. But they do get by, they have food and shelter and clean clothes, and they are, as a whole, way happier than any other segment of the population I know. They’re 30-somethings with multiple roommates and no car and they don’t care. They’re living the life they want, on terms they’re comfortable with, and even if they look unproductive to the rest of us, some of them are actually really good artists doing cool and interesting things with their lives. Every once in a while one of them gets lucky and sells something for a lot of money, or the weird shop they opened becomes successful, and then they further employ everyone around them. Someone should do a sociological study of hipsters because I think they’re our future.

  27. LA Juice says:

    you know, my undergrad commencement speaker literally said “There are no jobs out there for you, no one wants to train you, but buy American”. And for years I thought he was an abomination, a bastard in bastard covered filling. Turns out he was right, and as I gaze upon the “Ewe-ts” of today, I feel like a dose of reality is needed, but I still don’ t think I could bring myself to sht on their day that way.