Paul Simon Gave Whoopi Goldberg This Advice at the Beginning of Her Career

With sixteen Grammy Awards, Paul Simon is one of music’s most highly respected figures. Simon has hits dating back over five decades, both as a solo artist and with his friend Art Garfunkel. Simon and Garfunkel are beloved by millions across all generations, and they continue to inspire as musicians and as people.

Simon and Garfunkel at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois, July 24, 1983 | Paul Natkin/Getty Images
Simon and Garfunkel at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois, July 24, 1983 | Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Whoopi Goldberg was a fan of Simon and Garfunkel

By the early 1980s, both Simon and Garfunkel were highly respected musicians in their own right, and had many years of experience in the entertainment industry under their belt. At the same time, a young comedian named Whoopi Goldberg was rising through the ranks herself. She was starring in her own one-woman show on Broadway, and would soon have a booming acting career thanks to her role in The Color Purple.

Goldberg recounted the story of when she met Simon and Garfunkel in an interview with supermodel Naomi Campbell on her web show No Filter with Naomi.

At the after party for her Broadway show, Goldberg and her mother were starstruck by everyone who was there, including stars like Madonna. Goldberg then spotted Simon and Garfunkel and was too nervous to approach them. Her mother pushed her to go up to them and introduce herself.

Paul Simon and Whoopi Goldberg | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Paul Simon and Whoopi Goldberg | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

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Paul Simon had advice for Whoopi Goldberg when they first met

Goldberg got the courage to talk to Simon and Garfunkel, and Goldberg’s life was changed after they talked about working in the entertainment world. “We had probably one of the best conversations I’ve ever had with anyone about what this is like,” Goldberg remembered.

“Paul Simon said to me, ‘Listen, it’s going to get really fast and a lot is going to happen, but you have to remember two things,'” she recalls. “‘Remember to have as good a time as you can. Because everything that you’re going to experience, this is the first time for you, so enjoy it.'”

Simon told Goldberg that he and Garfunkel never took the time to smell the roses and enjoy their success throughout the years, and were always just focused on working and putting out music.

For his second piece of advice, Simon prepared Goldberg for the raised eyebrows and rejections she would inevitably face in the film and TV world. “‘A lot of people are not going to get you. They’re not going to understand you, just personally. You will be strange to them,'” he told Goldberg.

“‘Don’t worry about it. What they don’t understand won’t hurt them,'” he told her. “Unless they piss you off and then you will hurt them!”

Goldberg said those words have stuck with her for decades as she’s risen to be one of the biggest entertainers of our time, and imparts that wisdom on to young performers today. “I’ve carried that through all these years,” she smiled, “and this is what I’ve said to newbies that I meet. ‘Have a good time.'”