Rejection can scare many talented people away from following their dreams. But in the case of director George Tillman Jr., rejection was the very thing that inspired him to go on to make popular films like 1997's Soul Food and direct television shows like Power and This Is Us. And it turns out, his first taste of entertainment industry dismissal came from All My Children.
While he says he was greatly inspired by iconic movies like Taxi Driver and The Godfather, Tillman Jr. tells the Hollywood Reporter that the project that most influenced his career trajectory was the now-defunct ABC soap opera. While both of his parents were busy working, he spent his summers with his retired grandmother, who he says was obsessed with Pine Valley happenings.
"I had to sit and watch it, and I started to see the storyline. There was a link between the characters. And then I said, 'I would love to do something like that,'" he recalls.
He was so influenced by the soap opera that he found an address for All My Children at the back of his grandmother's TV Guide and wrote to the producers, pitching them ideas.
"They were like, 'Thank you for writing us, but we have our characters and stories, but we can send you a script,'" he says, adding that it was first time he'd seen the screenplay format. "That's how I fell in love with film and TV."
A couple of decades later, and Tillman Jr. has quite the résumé under his belt, including producing the Barbershop movies and directing everything from the Nicholas Sparks romance The Longest Ride to the hip-hop biopic Notorious, about the late Brooklyn-born rapper The Notorious B.I.G.
His latest film -- the recent young adult movie The Hate U Give, which tells the story of a 16-year-old black girl who divides her time between an affluent, predominantly white high school and her more diverse, working-class neighborhood -- is garnering Tillman Jr. some of the best reviews of his career. The film opened with a $7.5M weekend at the box office and earned an "A+" rating from Cinemascore.
Now how's that for the lasting impact of All My Children?
What do you think about Tillman Jr. sharing that All My Children had a serious influence on his career? How did the beloved ABC soap opera affect you? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.