09/04/2013 10:32 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Modern Griot: Michael Genet


Shakespeare once wrote, "Suit the action to the word, the word to the action." So there's no surprise that performer and screenwriter Michael Genet has written a book about resilience. A natural raconteur Michael is a 30-year show business veteran with impressive Broadway, television, film (A Few Good Men, Another World, Lestat, 25th Hour, Law and Order) and screenwriting (She Hate Me, Talk to Me) credits. Now Michael has shared personal stories, observations and lessons of his hard-won career in a new book, They Must Not Know Who I Think I Am: Lessons in Defiant Resilience. His scrappy journey (financial challenges, survival jobs, rejection, integrity) to his much deserved success shows he has skin in the game and real life inspiration to pay forward in an empowering book for all.

"Sharing these stories has had an amazing effect on me. I've always known I was a fighter; a warrior if you will. I've always had a high tolerance for pain, and the recuperative power to bounce back from great disappointments. I've had to. But what I didn't know was that the stories of my many life experiences, and in particular, the experiences I've had in my career, would resonate so loudly and passionately with almost everyone who hears or reads about them. I still shake my head over that revelation. Up until nine months ago, I would've never dreamed of telling my stories out loud, let alone put them down in a book. I never found them all that interesting. I certainly didn't think anyone else would. They were just the things I did to survive. It's always been second nature for me, that when you get knocked down you get back up. When someone closes a door in your face, you find an open window to climb through. When someone tells you "No", you find someone who'll tell you "Yes." I thought that's what everyone did. But when I started putting my stories out there, I was stunned to find that no, that's not what most people do at all. Most people, when they get knocked down, they stay down. For a good while anyway. They wanna get back up, but they're afraid for whatever reason. They've been scarred by the pain of the initial beating and don't wanna feel that again. But that's what my stories of resilience are about. They give people a way to get back up again. My stories let everyone know that if the world won't give you permission to better than the person next to you, then it's okay to give it to yourself."

Instead of writing a show business tell all or vanity memoir his authentic life lessons on resilience relates to everyone. He knows that is why we'll feel his book's message, "They've been forged in the fire of life's trials and tribulations, and I've earned every scar that came from every battle. This is a first hand account from a guy who's stood in the Batters Box and struck out seven times out of ten. A guy who's had his booty kicked by everybody and their mama a hundred times over. I've dared to dream, even when my dreams went unfulfilled. I've dared to fight, even when I was told I had no chance to win. I've been knocked down more times than a calculator can count. And I've been broke as the Ten Commandments more times than I care to admit. !"
Though he has received industry accolades for his work (Sundance Screenwriter's Lab for "Pork Pie" and NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing for "Talk to Me") Michael has the last word on success, "Trying to put a definition on success is a dangerous thing. I really don't think you can tabulate the score until you're at the end of the game. The reason I'm as successful as I am, is I never fool myself. And I'm also smart enough to know there isn't any one road that leads to success. But there is one road that leads to failure, and that's trying to please everybody! Because that simply can't be done, especially not in this day and age. So I'll leave the "definition of success" to someone else. I'll just continue to go out and be successful for as long as I can. I'll let people add up the score when I'm done." Actor, singer, screenwriter and now author Michael Genet's new book, "'They Must Not Know Who I Think I Am" enlightens the struggle to thrive and succeed with humor, grit and truth.