Leonardo DiCaprio is the definition of stay low and build.
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Yesterday was Leonardo DiCaprio's 41st birthday. For his next film The Revenant he endured months of freezing temperatures, flirted with hypothermia and slept inside of an animal carcass. In other words, DiCaprio is a master of being uncomfortable for the sake of his art. 

The reason that drive is often called "hunger" is because it's stronger than a want or a desire. Hunger implies that there is a fundamental need that requires satisfaction. Hunger is uncomfortable. I often ask myself how comfortable I am with being uncomfortable, and whether my own work could use more risk and less cushy-ness. 

Based on merit alone, it is hard to make an argument for why DiCaprio hasn't won an Academy Award. Other than his talent, he has played all the roles that the Academy typical goes HAM for: Biographical (J. Edgar, The Aviator, Catch Me If You Can), struggles with physical/mental illness (The Aviator, What's Eating Gilbert Grape? ), Charming Sociopath (Wolf of Wall Street, Django Unchained), and other just good-ass roles, like his leads in Revolutionary Road and The Departed

Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise. I can't say whether the desire to win an Oscar is motivation for DiCaprio, but if we are to assume that he is in pursuit of one, in the process he has created a body of work that outshines most actors who have won the award. Not always winning keeps you hungry. It keeps you uncomfortable. It is better for people to wonder why you didn't win something that to wonder why you did. 

Your turn: On a scale of one to animal carcass, how hungry are you? Reply via email or on Twitter with the hashtag #HWHunger.

Highwater Weekly Picks 

  • Planning your indie author career? The Self-Pub Weekly is an excellent resource for authorpeneurs.
  • Designer Kristy Tillman is scheduling 30-minute time slots with underrepresented designers for career and side project chat. Sign up here.
  • The Puffin Foundation is accepting funding proposals for photography, music and theater projects. You have to send in a SASE to get an application, and applications must be received via snail mail by December 4th. 
  • Have your own DiCaprio fest this weekend. Django Unchained, The Aviator and What's Eating Gilbert Grape? are all on Netflix. The Departed can be found on HBO Go. The Wolf of Wall Street is now streaming on Hulu.


  • Talk about Throwback Thursday! Today Missy Elliott blessed the kids with her new Pharrell-produced track WTF (Where They From). Between Missy's new music, Pharrell's residency on the TV show The Voice,  Timbaland serving as the TV Show Empire's music honcho and D'Angelo's Black Messiah, over the last year and a half these Virginians has brought the music of my teens and early 20s back in fresh and subversive ways, and I am truly grateful. 
  • Speaking of throwbacks, Bobby Caldwell has a new album with Jack Splash and its yacht rock levels are Def Con Ascot. Preview it on NPR Music. The album comes out tomorrow (Nov. 13).
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Thanks for reading. 

Your partner in progress, 
Chakka AKA Mouf Ellison
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