“Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant”, said Cary Grant.
More than anyone I can think of, Cary Grant personifies the art of reinventing yourself.
Grant was born on January 18, 1904 into a poor household in Bristol, England. He had an alcoholic father and a mother who suffered from depression. Back then he was Archie Leach.
As Archie Leach he came to America in 1920 when he was only 16 years old. He worked in a lot of different vaudeville shows in New York City before going to California to try for success in Hollywood.
It was B.P. Schulberg, co-founder of Paramount Pictures, who in 1931 decided Archie Leach needed to change his name if he wanted to make it in the world of film. And the persona of Cary Grant was born. It wasn’t until 1941 that Grant legally made it his name.
He quickly became a popular in-demand actor performing opposite the biggest female stars of the 1930s – Marlene Deitrich, Mae West, Katharine Hepburn, and Irene Dunn. He had a spectacular run of film successes that spanned more than three decades. He was known for his incredible good looks, his distinctive taste in men’s fashion, his masterful timing, self-deprecating sense of humor, and his astute business decisions.
But mostly he is recognized for for his ability to play a vast variety of leading man roles that cast him as debonair, funny, tragic, serious, or sinister depending on the film. The one thing he always was, regardless of the role, was desirable. Women swooned over him; men wanted to emulate him.
Directors Stanley Donen and Howard Hawks both said that Grant was the greatest and most important actor in the history of cinema. Film critic Richard Schickel stated that Grant was “the best star actor there ever was in the movies.”
At his death in 1986 Grant was universally accepted as the classic, definitive leading man in film. Although he was a successful, versatile actor and box office star, he never won an Academy award for a performance. It was a slight he felt intensely throughout his career.
The “Even I want to be Cary Grant” quote reflects the deliberate way Grant went about creating both the public and private person he became.
That’s something we can all do. Each new experience in our lives gives us an opportunity to reinvent who we are and how we’re perceived. Life is full of opportunities to start over, to become a better person, a different person, the person we want to be. Just as products get reinvented and re-branded as the “new and improved” versions of what they started out as, people can become the new and improved versions of themselves.
Self reinvention is letting go of bad habits, changing old ways, and modifying your image and behavior to create a new you. It is an indication that you see yourself and realize you want to change what you see.
Personality traits or characteristics that are not working well for you are not set in stone. You can change them. First, you have to want to. Second, you have to know what you want to change them to. Third, you have to start doing it.
Self reinvention is key to both personal and professional success. It can be the learning of a new skill or skills. It can be improvement at adapting to changes and situations that are unexpected. It can be overcoming bad habits and making better decisions.
Becoming a “new you” can also be a physical thing. Something as simple as a new hair style or enhanced hair color will make others see you differently. A change in fashion and wardrobe style, or even in the colors you wear, will change your image.
When you get others to perceive you differently, in a good way, its a huge boost to your self esteem!
Self reinvention can also be something that is forced on you due to a catastrophe in your life. Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling book, Eat Pray Love, is an example of how she turned a dark event in her life into an act of reinvention. And its a good book to read if you’re wanting to become a new you.
The reasons for self reinvention are many. Think about how people define you; what they say about you. Are you happy with that? If not, who do you want to be?
If your life is headed in the wrong direction, reinvention can turn it around. It’s something you can do at any age. It takes courage and a willingness to walk away from your day-to-day normal to become the new you.
There are no guarantees. But there is exhilaration from knowing you’re making changes for the better. Hopefully, like Cary Grant, you’ll be able to say you want to be exactly who you are.
“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”George Elliot
If you enjoyed this blog and know someone else who would enjoy it, please share it.