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3 Reasons River Phoenix Will Forever Be My Role Model

River taught me why it's important to be yourself.

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River Phoenix

Before Leonardo DiCaprio, there was a young and promising star named River Phoenix. The first time I watched him was in the film "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," where he played young Indiana Jones. I remembered saying that he was very hot as the young Indiana Jones. But I wasn't into him until I watched the 1986 film "Stand by Me." His stunning performance as Chris Chambers in the film really astonished me. From there on, I was very fascinated with this actor and I did tons of research.

Not only was he really handsome, but there was something about him that made him so inspiring.

1. River taught me that there is still goodness in people

River was an animal lover. He believed in the goodness of animals, like how he believed in the goodness of humans. Therefore, in order to show his kindness to animals, he gave up eating meat and became a vegetarian. He saw the injustice of animal abuse and refused to wear any clothing made of fur. He wouldn't eat a hamburger for $40,000 dollars either. I am glad to see a man like River who held the importance of peace to such high regard. People like him really make the world such a better place.

Another thing interesting about River was that he understood the struggles and injustice of women. He said,

"The biggest thing that really gets me are the girls... because of being used, the way men use women. It really upsets me. The wonderful extra-virgin-olive-oil young ladies, who are so wholesome and so together and their heads are on tight, and you see them a year later and they're — and all they've got left is just a recorded message in their heads."

I'm not saying that I respect River for being a feminist, but I respect River for standing up for women and addressing the problems they are facing. It just gives me faith that there are still inherently good people.

2. River taught me to never give up your passions

In the 1986 film "Stand by Me," River's character Chris Chambers delivers a powerful quote that I will never forget. When his best friend Gordie, played by Will Wheaton, was unsure about pursuing his career in writing, Chris consoles him by saying, "It's like God gave you something, man. And he said, 'This is what we got for you, kid, try not to lose it.'"

When I was growing up, I always had this feeling that my passion for arts would be frowned upon by others and I thought it was best to give up my art major and change it into a better one. But when I heard that quote, I realized that I should appreciate what I have and follow my heart no matter what people say. I also heard that other than acting, River's true passion was music. He was part of a band called "Aleka's Attic" and when they disbanded, River still continued with writing and performing music. I was happy to see that River was still doing what he loved. That not only made me happy but also gave me hope.

3. River taught me why it's important to be yourself

River never cared about fame. What mattered to him was being himself. That made him very unique from every other actor at that time. Instead of choosing to play in films that would make him a famous actor, he chose to play in films that he wanted to be in. He played as a gay hustler in "My Own Private Idaho." It was just amazing to see someone like River use his celebrity status to stand up for equal rights for gay men.

River even encouraged me to be comfortable with who I am. Here's one of the quotes that struck me: "When I was younger, I was worried about how others viewed me and if I was good enough. I realize now that you can't mold an image or try to be something that you are not. As far as being an actor is concerned, your work really speaks for itself." As a girl, I've always been scared of opening up to others, fearing what they think of me. But River taught me that you shouldn't let people make you feel unworthy and you shouldn't be ashamed for who you are. Because being you is what sets you apart from others and being you makes you unique. It makes you extraordinary.


Despite his battle with drugs and his unfortunate death in 1993, it is sad to know such a young and beautiful man like River Phoenix is no longer here with us. If he was still alive today, he would definitely one of the people I would want to meet during my lifetime. Even though many future generations won't know about this remarkable man, he will still live on as an unforgettable star in my heart.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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