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  • Writer's pictureHassan Younes

How Winona Ryder Rejects Complacency

Complacency can cause irreparable damage to your personal life, relationships, and career if you let it take root. Winona Ryder’s life is a prime example of what can happen if you shun it.



To the average movie watcher these days, Winona Ryder is just another name. But in the late 80s and the 90s, everyone in Hollywood knew about her brilliance and talent.


She was an iconic actress who dominated the movie screens at home and in the cinemas. In fact, most people regarded her as the most promising, most beautiful, and most fashionable star of her generation.


The awards she won during that period attest to this public opinion of her. These include the Golden Globe Award and the Screen Actors Guild Award, to start with. Not to mention she was also nominated for the Grammys and Academy Awards.


Given that Winona hit her peak several decades ago, many would think that her career would be over by now. Especially given the fact that she had a damaging run-in with the law that dealt a serious blow to her career.


But her name is still relevant today.


She’s back on screen, starring in movies that are making waves all over the world. Some of those movies are Star Trek, Netflix’s Stranger Things series, and The Plot Against America.


Winona achieved this impressive feat by rejecting complacency in her life and career. And in this article, we’re going to discuss in detail how she made it happen.


Doing the same can bring you lasting success.


Winona’s Rise to Stardom


Winona was born to Cynthia Palmer and Michael Horowitz in Minnesota in 1971. When she was 10, her family moved to Petaluma in California. And two years later, she started taking acting classes at the American Conservatory Theater in nearby San Francisco.


Having taken acting classes for a couple of years, Winona felt confident enough to send a videotaped audition to appear in the movie Desert Bloom in 1985. While she didn’t get a role in that movie, director David Seltzer cast her in his high school drama Lucas, a year later in 1986.


That started Winona’s acting career. What followed includes the following:


● She appeared in Square Dance in 1987 and followed that up with Beetlejuice, which was a box-office success.


● In 1988, she starred as a protagonist in Heathers, a black comedy that was well-received by critics.


● She appeared in several movies before playing the lead female role in the popular movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1992.


● The following year, she starred in The Age of Innocence, a historical drama directed by Martin Scorsese. Her performance earned her a Golden Globe Award for best supporting actress.


● In 1994, she played the lead role in Little Women, where she was praised by critics for her performance as the protagonist.


By the mid-90s, Winona had become an iconic Hollywood star. Her face was everywhere and fans eagerly waited for her movies. This success continued into the late 1990s, with her appearing in popular movies like Girl, Interrupted and Alien Resurrection.


The future looked bright and beautiful. It didn’t seem as if anything or anyone could stop the iconic actress from attaining greatness.


But at the start of the new millennium, her career progress was brought to a screeching halt.

Winona and Her Fall From Grace


For many, Winona’s change in circumstances was mainly due to a series of bad creative decisions, or bad luck, as some would put it. But if you examine things more closely…


It was evident that complacency was the root cause of her problems.


This started with reports of her making trouble for her friends and associates just for the hell of it. And it culminated in her arrest for shoplifting in Beverly Hills back in 2001. According to reports, she stole designer clothes and accessories worth $5,500 from a department store.


It’s as if she felt nothing can go wrong given her status. But reality proved otherwise.


After a speedy trial in which she was convicted, she was sentenced to 500 hours of community service and mandatory counseling. The tabloids followed the case keenly, and her face was all over both TV and print media.


Humiliated and embarrassed by the ordeal, Winona dropped out of sight.


She left Los Angeles to seek comfort in her childhood home near San Francisco. And despite being warned against hibernating for too long as it could hurt her career, Winona stayed away for several years.


By the time she came out of hiding, Hollywood had all but forgotten about her.


Restarting her career became a daunting task. The kind of female protagonist roles in which she’d previously excelled no longer existed. And female roles in big movies were not a fit for women in her age bracket.


It’s as if the sun had set on Winona’s acting career. And it seemed as if complacency had succeeded in ruining her fame, career, and professional relationship. Worse, it felt like she wouldn’t be able to recover from the setback.


But she didn’t give up on herself.


Instead of giving in to despair, she decided to kick complacency to the curb. And this brought about a new era in her acting career.

Winona Reinvented


Winona faced her challenges by reinventing herself in the movie industry. She made her return with several independent movies between 2006 and 2008. These included The Darwin Awards, Sex and Death 101, andWelcome.


None of these movies were as big as her previous films. They also weren’t received well by the public and she didn’t play a prominent role in all of them. However, she kept reinventing herself, working hard and trying different roles.


And in 2009, things started changing for her.


She played a prominent supporting role as an aging ballet star in Black Swan, which turned out to be a success. She also appeared as Spock’s mother in Star Trek and starred in the television movie, When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story. Her performance earned her a nomination for a Screen Actor Guild Award.


In 2016, she starred in Stranger Things, a Netflix Original series that was set in the 80s. The series gained widespread fame and further catapulted her into more success and a new breakthrough. Her performance in the series earned her significant praise from critics.


Then in 2020, she starred in The Plot Against America, a drama series that aired on HBO. And many more casting calls seem to be coming in.


By reinventing herself, Winona dealt severely with complacency and was able to reinvent her acting career. This is an impressive feat, considering how competitive Hollywood is. And this proves one thing:


If you deal with complacency the right way, it will not be able to block your path to success.

Kick Complacency To The Curb


It’s clear that complacency is something that can destroy your relationships and career. And someone as famous as Winona Ryder is no exception to that.


After achieving massive success in her career, she succumbed to complacency. It plagued her relationship with friends and colleagues and influenced her actions, which ended in her being a convict.


Complacency was also the reason she took an unnecessary long hiatus from acting – which dealt a severe blow to her career. This is why many people believed that her Hollywood career was over.


…Until she proved them wrong by overcoming complacency in her life. And she did this by reinventing herself and working as hard as she could. With time, her efforts yielded success and her career was revived.


That is something we can all learn from her.


Would you like to find out more about overcoming complacency and growing a successful organization?

Get in touch and discover how my speaking services can help you out.

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