Just about everyone I know wants to be around people who are authentic. Who are transparent. Who are open.
We also love it when those in the public eye can be the same, but it happens so rarely in our day of media image-crafting where the off-stage life of celebrities is as calculated and choreographed as their films, shows, concerts or competitions.
That’s why it’s been so appealing to see Andre Agassi not on the professional tennis tour but on his recent book tour. In televised interview after interview, he’s refreshingly open about his book, “Open,” a crafty title about his success in Grand Slam “Open” tournaments and his openness about his life.
In the book–and vulnerably so in interview after interview–Agassi speaks about his use of crystal meth, his hatred for the game of tennis, his failed marriage to Brooke Shields, his hair falling out, his dad who gave him drugs, falling to #141 in the world rankings and other matters. In an amazing way, this superstar celebrity sounds like an everyday guy dealing with everyday things: he hated his job, his marriage failed, he was going bald, he was tempted by drugs, he had issues with his birth parents and how he had to make an impossible comeback after hitting rock bottom.
I remember watching Agassi play in a little qualifier tournament in Burbank, after he’d fallen so far off of the tennis map that he couldn’t even play in the big tournaments. At that time, he was in the tennis basement, between the big hair success of his boyhood days and the championship comeback he was about to launch. Watching him on TV this week, I’m inspired and impressed by how far he’s come personally as well as professionally.
“I think this book is an atonement,” Agassi told “The Today Show’s” Merideth Vierra. “I’ve got a whole lot more to lose than win by doing this book.” View that interview here and Katie Couric’s “60 Minutes” interview here.
He went on to acknowledge that his image will take a hit with the revelations of this book, but he hopes it will help others who’re stuck in similar situations, albeit without the fame.
Everyone who does a big book or makes a big movie or has a bid CD release will do the tour of morning, afternoon and evening shows to promote their new thing. Often the interviews and promotions are boring and according to script. I found Agassi to be refreshing in his approach and inspiring in an understated way, although I wish he’d have been given a greater chance to talk about his own faith and spirituality. I hope there are lots of people who’ll benefit from the book.