JAMES CAMERON, DIRECTOR OF AVATAR
James Cameron, who I worked with on Avatar, taught me a very important lesson. And that is that no detail is ever too small. Everything that you do carries the same level of importance. James is the kind of guy who’s known for shooting very long days and for taking his time with everything he does. But the reason he does that is that he puts the same attention and detail into a very, very big scene as he does into a very small scene. He’ll treat a one day payer’s character just as importantly as he treats his main cast. And that’s why his projects come out the way they do.
SPIKE LEE, DIRECTOR OF MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA
On the set of Miracle at St. Anna, Spike taught me that I always need to come to work prepared. That’s one guy who, the minute that he walks onto a set, already has the entire shot he wants to get in his head. He knows exactly what he’s looking for, exactly how he’s going to cut a scene, and exactly how it’s going to look and how the music is going to sound at that moment in the movie. He knows all that before he even shoots a scene. So I learned to do everything you possibly can to be prepared. Overprepare if you have to!
SALIM AKIL, DIRECTOR OF JUMPING THE BROOM
In the face of some of the most serious issues that we faced while shooting Jumping The Broom, Salim never once lost his cool. He taught me that no matter what goes wrong, under any circumstance, try not to lose your cool. That’s something I really admire about him. He always stayed calm, collected, and level-headed and tried to figure out whatever was bothering him. And when he couldn’t figure it out, he’d just laugh about it. He knew there was nothing he could do anyway. That’s a key to being successful not just in your career but in your life as well.
She taught me that there was nothing that I couldn’t accomplish if I put my mind to it. I know that sounds cliche, but it’s true and it’s helped me get to where I am today. Plus, I have to include her on this list right now. It is almost Mother’s Day, right? (Laughs)