I Respect Gale Anne Hurd...and I Like Her, Too
I almost skipped Gale Anne Hurd’s keynote. It was early Saturday evening, and I was exhausted not only from being on the go but from being on personally. Just before I crashed onto the super-fluffy Sheraton bed, I discovered that Michelle Burke had tweeted me and asked whether I’d be at Gale’s keynote. And because I can’t resist any of my Aussies, I gave up my nap, put on my trusty red fedora, and darted out the hotel room door.
I’m so very glad I went.
Michelle had front-row seats for us. We chatted until the lights dimmed, and then I settled in to see what would come from this keynote. I knew little about Gale other than titles of movies and shows she had produced, so I didn’t really know what to expect.
What I got was a woman who made an impression on me as being both a brick wall of confidence and a calm pool of inner understanding and acceptance.
She gracefully carries who she is and the decisions she’s made, from when she stayed up late reading comic books as a young girl to when she decided, with careful deliberation, not to name her production company after herself. She made her decision based on what she wanted and what was comfortable for her, and she makes no apologies for that. She doesn’t do things to please others, but rather to accomplish her goals.
She said had to decide a long time ago between whether she wanted to be liked or respected, and she chose to be respected.
In response, Elisa asked Gale, “Do you think it’s possible to be in a position like yours today and be both liked and respected?”
And Gale said simply, “No.”
It was an awesome moment because she nailed the comedic timing and presented a strong, firm belief all in one syllable.
This is going to be terribly presumptuous of me, but I want to say that after watching that interview, I both like and respect Gale. It’s presumptuous because I’ve neither met her nor worked for her, but that isn’t going to stop me from liking her. However, I don’t mean to devalue Gale’s assertion, because, dammit, her “no” is spot-on because she didn’t try to be likeable. Nor should she have.
Maybe I'm being confusing. Heck, I feel like I just confused myself. To clarify my meaning, I need to tell you about Mr. G, my college history professor. He was one of those professors who could amaze students with the amount of knowledge packed into his cranium. I worked my tail off in his class, but I couldn’t get a solid A on anything, whether it be essay, quiz, or test. My work came back tagged with a C+, B-, B, B+, maybe an A-. As a typical straight-A student, it drove me bonkers! And I questioned him, and learned from him, and went back and worked harder. Mr. G wasn’t mean, but nor did he ever bend his principles for the sake of being likeable. He pushed and pulled and encouraged harder work and deeper thought. He didn’t compromise.
I had class with Mr. G for only one semester, but he was one of my favorite professors.
Me? I’m a fluffball, a cuddle-seeker, a person who adapts and melds around others. I happily go to great lengths to get a smile or laugh. That’s who I am, and I’m not trying to be anything else. However, I don’t think a person necessarily has to be soft or bendy to be likeable.
My impression of Gale from her keynote is that she doesn’t do anything in order to be liked — rather, she sets her mind to a task and does it, and perhaps she frequently has to push and pull and make people think and work longer and harder to get the job done. And that’s just what I like, and respect, about her.
Do you ever find that you have to decide between being respected and doing something you feel would be more likeable? What do you do in those cases?