5 Lessons Learned from Jason Segel

My fiance turned to me recently and said, “Did you know that Jason Segal blah blah blah blah blah?” (I don't remember WHAT the fiance actually said, mostly because it was garbled and incoherent.) But, what stuck with me was the reminder of how Segal paved his own path in Hollywood and built his own success when others weren't willing to take the chance on him.

While funny man Segal has stolen the hearts of many ladies (Nick was always my favorite on Freaks and Geeks), his hard work and perseverance are what have paid off in Hollywood. The film Forgetting Sarah Marshall catapulted him, paving the way for hit series like How I Met Your Mother, The Muppets reboot, and more.  That wouldn't have happened without Segal taking his career into his own hands and creating a world of opportunity for himself.

When others tell you “No” or “You Can't…” find a way to turn it into “Yes” or “I Will.”


For every time you're faced with a “no,” think to yourself, “What would Jason Segal do?

Segal was turned down for roles in Undeclared and The 40 Year Old Virgin before a comment from producer-writer Judd Apatow changed it all: “The only way you're going to make it is if you start writing your own material.”  And writing his own material is what Segal did. This led to his breakout role (written by himself), Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Sometimes success means creating work and opportunities for yourself.


After failing to land several roles, mega-producer Judd Apatow told Segal, “You’re kind of a weird dude. The only way you’re going to make it is if you start writing your own material.”  Forgetting Sarah Marshall wasn't Segal's only self-made opportunity. Segal also wrote the hit, The Muppets, as well as the screenplay for The Five-Year Engagement.

Whether you're looking to work with brands, become paid staff at a magazine, or launch your own store, you're going to have to take Segal's entrepreneurial spirit and apply it to your business plan.  This means living your work and building (and the hustling) for the opportunities you want.

You can pave a path to success by being yourself; ignore what others say will “hold you back.”


Again– Apatow told Segal, “you're kind of a weird dude.”  Segal doesn't have the trademarks of a Hollywood leading man, nor does he have the physical attributes associated with being the funny man.

He falls into this small, specific niche… and you may too.  You don't HAVE to be blonde, 5'10, and a size 4 to be an amazing blogger and find success.  If you work hard to create your own opportunities and are authentic in everything you do, you'll pave your own way.

You'll greet a lot of rejection before you find success.


As someone who worked in theatre, an actor's life is rejection. It's also going back over and over again, fighting for the same chances. What if Segal hadn't taken Apatow's advice to heart and had left performing?  The thing you're truly passionate about, that you truly love? — you'll keep doing it whether or not you achieve the “success” you dream of.   Passion and love will drive you forward.  If Segal hadn't been so passionate about PUPPETRY (of all things!), we would be without the latest version The Muppets (and that'd be a sad world to live in, amiright?)

Use YOUR real life to sell yourself, stimulate your creativity, and build your products.


Scene: Segal, nude, getting dumped in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Segal says of that scene (and it happening in real life), “And so I was naked when she arrived.  And she walked through the door and I literally did, “Hey, baby.”  And she looked me in my face and said, “We need to talk.”  And instantly I knew it was happening, you know.  And the problem, the sickness, is that I knew that I should be experiencing this viscerally, like this is two human beings having an actual moment.  And all I kept thinking was this is the funniest thing that has ever happened to anybody.  Honest to God, yeah.  Like, “I can't wait till she walks out of this room so that I can start laughing and call all my friends.”

This isn't to say you need to put your most embarrassing moments into a film (or maybe you do), but honesty, vulnerability, and reality will keep you grounded, your content fresh, and everyone coming back for more.


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12 Responses

  1. Nikki Hodum

    This was such a great post! I love Jason Segel anyway, but I didn’t realize he has such a hard time breaking in to acting. I think as bloggers we can all relate to having to pave our own way. Sometimes I feel down about my blog because I am not a supermodel or have tons of money to buy new expensive things 24/7, but that is where I try to make mine unique because I am just an average girl!
    This post is definitely inspiring me!

  2. Bisous Natasha

    So true, and such a refreshing post. I just do my own thing and show people who I am instead of trying to conform to their standards, when half the time they say no. When one door closes, another opens. If all else fails, drop kick your way in. LOL



  3. Jenny

    Wow, I’m a little surprised by how much this article has motivated me. What a phenomenal example. Jason Segel is hilarious and really good at what he does. To think that he faced so much rejection early on in his career is mind-boggling. He had to prove himself before anyone would give him a chance. This is such a fantastic example to reference for bloggers. We are all fabulous but need to push ourselves to the top instead of hoping someone will pull us up there. We really need to showcase what we do, and work hard to get it in front of people instead of hoping that they will just stumble upon it. Thank you for this article. It was exactly the motivation I needed.

  4. Toni Styles

    Super post, Jason Segel’s story is such an inspiring one. Does anyone remember him as “watermelon boy” from the movie “Can’t Hardly Wait”? Great to see him doing so well – it just goes to show there is room for anyone who stays true to self, creates new opportunities and never gives up.

    http://rhythmandruffle.com <3

  5. Lydia

    Thanks for this post, Jason Segal is a real inspiration. Love him on HIMYM!


  6. Stacey

    Inspiring and funny guy! Freaks and Geeks has a special place in my heart, however the dancing Bill scene is AMAZING!

  7. Kris B.

    Thank you for this inspiring post, Ashley!
    I like him because he is different. He looks so cool, down to Earth and it’s his attitude that makes him special. Of course, I don’t know him in person but it is the charisma and types of roles that shows it… People didn’t give him much chance and he just MADE IT – that’s amazing. Forgetting SM was great, as well as I love you man – that movie would be nothing without him! And after Bad teacher, I think teachers just hope to meet a new colleague just like him 😉