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Wednesday Claps with Coach Wiley #4: Five Key Life Lessons We Can Learn from Nicolas Cage - Wiley's Favorite Enigmatic & Inspirational Actor

Updated: Apr 25

The fourth of weekly Wiley Wednesday Speech and Debate blogs is... a little different. In honor of the completion of my MA in English with a Rhetorical Studies emphasis earlier this year, today we will explore five insightful life lessons we can glean from man, myth, and legend - Nicolas Cage - and his epic cinematic journey. It's time to grab your popcorn, release your inhibitions, and embrace your inner Cage!

Confession time: I may be a little obsessed with Nicolas Cage. In fact, I may or may not have written my capstone for my Master of Arts in English with a Rhetorical Studies emphasis degree about Cage and his role as a primary signifier. Cage is certainly an intriguing actor who has always managed to captivate my attention and ignite my imagination. The highs and lows (and everything in between) of his epic cinematic journey were my muse for for exploration of rhetorical studies in film and culture. And let me tell you, it was a wild ride!

Now, after watching all of Cage's 100+ movies (for research purposes, of course), I've come away with more than just a newfound appreciation for his eclectic and massive filmography. In fact, I've unearthed some powerful life lessons that we can all learn from Cage. While I realize that this blog post is barely Speech and Debate adjacent and probably a bit goofy, in the fearless spirit of Cage, I've surrendered my inhibitions! It's time to dive into some claps for my top five Cage life lessons:

CLAP 1: Embrace Your Quirks/Unique Characteristics

Let's face it, Cage isn't your typical Hollywood heartthrob—and that, my friends, is a good thing. No one will accuse him of being overly naturalistic or boring (that's for sure), and his unique (and abstract) vibe is part of what gave him opportunities in the film industry. His knack for embracing the weird, the wild, and wonderful teaches us that it's okay to unapologetically reveal our true selves. So go ahead, embrace your quirks just like Cage—after all, those quirks are what make you uniquely you.

CLAP 2: Take Calculated Risks

Cage is certainly no stranger to taking risks—both on and off-screen. From his daring and unhinged roles to his infamous purchases (hi there, haunted mansion, giant iguana, and forbidden dinosaur skull), Cage reminds us that life is too short to play it safe. In fact, Cage wants to be pushed out of his comfort zone, because he wants to continue to learn, improve, and explore what it means to be an actor. What is YOUR Declaration of Independence, and how will YOU take the big risk to steal it? Why not take a page out of Cage's genre-defying novel and embark on your own epic adventure?

CLAP 3: Laugh in the Face of Adversity

When you reveal your true self, take risks, and embrace quirks, you might have some haters. Cage is the subject of countless debates about the quality of his art, and many of these debates are unfriendly (to put it mildly) to Cage and his best efforts. But, Cage soldiers on and keeps his sense of self and humor. Despite the intense roles he often chooses, Cage has a knack for finding humor in life's absurdities. Whether he's battling supernatural forces, screaming for fear of bees, or facing off against bad guys, Cage's infectious laugh reminds us to find joy in even the darkest of times. So, don't forget to find your laughter in those moments of trial and hardship—it's good for the soul.

CLAP 4: Prepare Like A Pro

Despite his reputation for spontaneity (which is, by the way, based mostly on unfair assumptions from some media members and audiences), Cage is no stranger to hard work and preparation. He continues to work in film because he loves working. He pushes himself out of his comfort zone to try new projects, but always with an approach of readiness and diligence. Essentially every interviewed peer who works with Cage reverently lauds his professionalism and next level preparation. While always professional and ready for his projects, he is also open to feedback and listens to his director. We should approach our professional endeavors with the same level of diligence and attention to detail. By putting in the time and effort to prepare, we can ensure that we're always ready to bring our best performance and effort—Cage-style.

CLAP 5: Enjoy the Ride

Perhaps the most important lesson we can learn from Cage's cinematic journey is to enjoy the ride. Despite the pressures of Hollywood, Cage has never lost sight of the joy and passion that fuel his craft. From his early days as a struggling actor to his rise as a star, Cage's career has been one heck of an adventure. Cage reminds us to find joy in our work and approach each day with enthusiasm and gusto. Whether you're chasing your dreams or just trying to survive Monday morning, remember to savor every moment—it's all part of the Cage-tastic journey!

So there you have it—five handpicked, poignant life lessons (of many I could have written about) courtesy of the one and only Nicolas Cage. I hope that whether you are a (misguided) Cage hater or lover of TRUE ART (and thus, Cage), that you found something worthwhile in this silly post!


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