At the early age of six, Peter discovered his love of performing. He and his older brother would put on shows in the basement of their parents’ home in Morristown, New Jersey. Their audience consisted of elderly neighbors happy to be entertained and support the boys. Inspired by the rock group The Who, the brothers created puppet shows which included drums made from empty tuna cans. Another show featured Peter riding in on a tricycle and repeatedly falling over – performed to the tune Send in the Clowns.
Peter and his brother grew up in a modest – yet happy – home. Their father, John, was an insurance salesman – their mother, Diane, a music teacher. Both boys were inclined to the performing arts – Peter to acting, his brother to the violin. Peter began acting in school plays, which not only fed his passion, it also provided him a refuge as he didn’t seem to fit in with the school crowd. For one thing, most of the students played sports and wore logo’d shirts – not Peter.
One day he was watching a tape of a play he had performed in. It occurred to him that everyone was taller than he. One would think that wouldn’t have been much of an insight as Peter was born with achondroplasia, the most common form of short-limbed dwarfism. For Peter, it was noteworthy. His parents had never made an issue of his height – he didn’t experience any special treatment throughout his childhood. The only hint Peter may have had of any abnormality were surgeries to shave his bones – procedures which were key to avoiding issues later in life. His parents never provided special treatment – instead, they merely loved and encouraged him in the same manner they did his older brother.
Peter got through high school through his acting and by relying on charm and swagger. Afterwards, he studied drama at Bennington College in Vermont, earning his degree in 1991. Over the next decade Peter moved to New York where he was the stereotypical unemployed actor. He spent six years as a data entry clerk to make ends meet. He shared a Lower East Side apartment with some friends – and some rats. Finding success as an actor doesn’t come easily. It’s even harder when there’s a commitment to principle.
Peter staunchly refused to accept roles which relied on his stature – clichéd roles such as elves and leprechauns were summarily rejected. Over time, Peter earned roles both in film and on Broadway. His breakout role was playing Tom Thumb in the movie The Station Agent. That was a role that was adapted specifically for Peter, after he and Tom McCarthy, the writer-director, met for the first time. At the age of 30, Peter was finally at a stage where he was able to make a comfortable living from his craft.
Over the next eight years Peter earned a variety of roles in television, movies and as a voice over. His biggest break wouldn’t come until 2011 when he was cast as Tyrion Lannister in a new HBO series, Game of Thrones. Peter was the first and only option for the role – without consideration of his physical size. His looks, charm, voice, and acting talent combined to make Peter perfect for the part, playing a romantic and real human being.
Peter has played the role of Tyrion for six years and has won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his work. He has achieved international fame and is highly sought for a wide variety of roles. He is an actor who has married his passion to his talent and wrapped them in principle. This success results from Peter Dinklage being a fearless brand.
Fearless Brands pursue their purpose with passion and principle
Peter Dinklage has become one of the most beloved characters on what is arguably the most popular television series of the day. Prior to that, Dinklage spent years rejecting roles which he felt compromised his principles. At the same time, he accepted every role which he found acceptable – his list of credits is long and varied. He is anything but lucky or an overnight success. Dinklage believes that the word “lucky” cheapens a great deal of hard work.
As a young man, Peter considered pursuing a career with his punk-funk-rap band, Whizzy. Instead, he remained committed to his primary love of acting. Dinklage is grateful that he didn’t achieve tremendous success at an early age and feels sorry for many of the young kids who have. He is certain that he would have created a great deal of havoc for himself and others if he had a lot of money in his early twenties.
Today, Peter Dinklage is happily married with a young daughter who is talented and smart. His role on Game of Thrones requires three months a year of intense work in Ireland, Croatia and other European locations. His free time and financial security allow Dinklage to support friends’ projects and indie productions – partly because they intrigue him, but also out of loyalty.
Peter Dinklage is a brilliant actor. Not only can we derive great entertainment from him, we can learn a great deal about building a fearless brand.
Don’t compromise your principles – Peter Dinklage could have had any number of roles had he been willing to compromise his principles. He refused. He refused to succumb to stereotyping. He believed in his talent as an actor. Embracing principles is hard, there is always an easier, softer way. However, integrity matters. Integrity leads to greater performance and greater self-satisfaction.
Cherish loyalty – Loyalty is a superior character trait. Loyalty creates strong bonds. Friendships last because true friends don’t chase money – they don’t get swayed by people who are more famous or more powerful. The single greatest result of effective branding is creating an emotional connection. Loyalty is a two-way street. Give loyalty if you want to earn loyalty.
The World is Yours – “Don’t wait until they tell you you are ready. Give yourself permission to fail.” Those are Peter Dinklage’s words to the 2012 Bennington College graduating class. Embrace your purpose, engage your talents and pursue your dreams. That sentiment perfectly sums up a fearless brand.
Peter Dinklage is famous and successful because of the man that he is – his character, charm, talent, and personality. He has not let his height (4 feet 5 inches by the way) define him as a person. Authenticity is the key to building a fearless brand. Stay true to your principles, cherish loyalty and act.