Tyrese's debut book How to Get Out of Your Own Way will be available tomorrow. The book offers stories about love and life through Gibson's incredible rise to fame.
Tyrese provided BET.com with an exclusive excerpt. Here, he reveals his struggles with idenity and fame—and how Will Smith gave him unforgettable advice.
Becoming the Master of Your Environment
I was around 250 pounds, and in the movie, the director wanted me to wear a tank top in a scene where I would be running up a street, chasing a car that was driving away with my son. When I was on set and we were filming that scene, I couldn’t help but think about Will Smith’s amazing scene in Bad Boys, where he’s running with his shirt open, shooting his gun as cars explode all around him. That particular shot right there was a huge action moment and one of the scenes that made Will Smith the A‑list star that he is, because it was just so well done. So while we were filming Waist Deep I was thinking a lot about that scene. I knew I didn’t quite look as good as I should have. In Bad Boys, Will Smith was acting like he was tired at the end of the scene, but I was really tired as I ran up the street, because I was just so big. Still, I didn’t do anything about it because no matter how bad I looked, checks were still getting cut, people were still calling and wanting me to be in their movies. I’ve learned that in Hollywood there is no sense of consequence.
On the set of a couple of movies that I shot a few months later, I was not really owning the craft or taking it seriously. I was lazy and unprofessional and wasn’t on point. I was showing up late sometimes to the set, talking on my Sidekick during filming, and I was totally out of shape and didn’t care that I was out of shape. I was too loud, cracking jokes while other people were trying to get in character and focus on their scenes. These were career-making movies, so what the hell was I doing? If anybody had just said to me, Tyrese, what you’re doing is wrong, then it would have stopped, but no one ever said anything, because in Hollywood, not many people are willing to say how they really feel because they’re afraid of getting fired.
The mind-set is "don’t piss off the stars," so I was on these film sets and people were talking about me, complaining about my behavior, and I didn’t know it. I was destroying my reputation and nobody was saying anything to me about it.
I didn’t realize anything was wrong until I met up with Will Smith. I had always liked to seek advice and I knew I needed some great advice at that point. I had sensed something was wrong but I wasn’t fully sure what it was. I told Charlie Mack, a mutual friend of ours, that I wanted to set up a time to chop it up with Will, and Charlie made it happen. He had known Will for about 30 years and through him I had run into Will many times, but this particular moment and this conversation we had shook me up—it was like my whole world caved in.
Will and I talked for hours—about three or four hours in a row. As I spoke my truth and put it all on the table, going into detail about how I was acting, what people were saying, what I was doing, Will just kept breaking it all down, dropping advice on me, painting the picture of how I was messing up and explaining why I had been getting the kind of responses I was getting.
It was only when I had this conversation with Will that it was made so clear to me that it was me, that with my attitude I was the one who had planted those negative seeds. Will made me aware that I shouldn’t have been complaining about press issues when I was not able to say that I was the best version of me in these movies. He told me, "You weren’t the best version of Tyrese, so none of that matters." I was showing up on set with top-notch directors, much heavier than I could have been, so what was I thinking? No matter what level you get to in your life and career you can always do better, so you have to stay sharp.
I probably got up from the table about 10 times during the course of the conversation, screaming, “I never thought about it like that!” I was really tripping about the things he was saying to me and the way he was breaking it down and making it so clear to me that I had been killing my career. If I hadn’t had that conversation with Will, then my outlook and my focus and the way I’ve been doing things would have totally killed me, and no one would have said anything. They would have just sat back and watched me do it.
Will explained that in any professional environment, and especially in Hollywood, it’s all about survival. He said—and I’m paraphrasing here—“Tyrese, let me explain something: Everyone that works on a movie set is on one mission and one mission only: to feed their families. That’s what they want to do. They may love what they do but they show up every single day and work their asses off to feed their families. Nobody’s going through all of that for no reason. So technically speaking, when you’re showing up lazy, out of shape, and unfocused, you have decided that you don’t care if people feed their families. And when you get in the way of someone feeding their families, they’re going to get in the way of you feeding your family.”
Will understood that I had grown up in the music industry. He had to spell it out that when you’re in movies, everything you do, your behavior, and your flaws, affects everybody involved with a film. When you get on a movie set, especially in Hollywood, the main focus tends to be the producers, the director, the stars—the “important” folks, so to speak—but after speaking to Will, I realized the value in everyone else who’s on the set. I was not going to be the reason on any level that anyone on a movie set couldn’t feed their family. I wasn’t going to do that. And that’s where it all changed.
This is an excerpt from HOW TO GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY by Tyrese Gibson. Copyright © 2011 by Tyrese Gibson. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Publishing, New York, NY. All rights reserved.