Wisdom//

What Gives Me Optimism: Film Producer Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas

Sharing a creative analogy with her niece's classmates made Goldsmith-Thomas hopeful for the future.

As part of an ongoing series, Thrive is asking some of the most interesting people we know to tell us what’s been making them hopeful lately. Here’s what Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, a film producer and writer who has guided the careers of stars like Jennifer Lopez, Julia Roberts, and Spike Lee, told us:

My 9-year-old niece, Sophie Chiaravalle, asked me to speak to her class about what exactly a producer does.

“Sure,” I said, “No problem.”

But it turns out it wasn’t so easy. Producing isn’t a profession like being a doctor, or a nurse, or a teacher. There aren’t set tasks on any given day, or even set places to go. I wanted to conjure up an image so they could understand.

So I told them that a producer is someone who has a dream and tries every day to make that dream a reality.

“Imagine that dream,” I said, “as a kind of a huge boulder, and the producer rolling it up a ginormous mountain filled with holes, and detours, and mudslides, and often a few rattlesnakes. It’s heavy, and it’s hard, and it doesn’t just require strength,” I said. “It requires foresight, and a great deal of help from a lot people. And even with all that help,” I explained, “the producer has to think on her feet and sometimes change direction just to navigate the different obstacles and to try to reach the top. Because when she does,” I told them, “she will be able to share that dream with the world.”  

As the image of me, I imagine, rolling some boulder was sinking in, one little boy raised his hand and said, “What happens if she doesn’t make it?”

“What happens if she gets bitten by a rattle snake, or falls into a cavern, or the boulder rolls back down the hill?”

And before I could answer, Sophie said, “She just gets up, figures a way out, and tries again.”

And THAT gives me hope.

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