Esteemed actor G.W. Bailey — “everyone is loved by someone.”
By Randall Kenneth Jones
Originally published in the Naples Daily News
We are simply not going to get along with everyone we meet— no matter what we do, some people are not going to like us.
Yes, we can attempt to be nice and attentive. We can craft thoughtful emails and draft handwritten notes. We can send flowers ‘til the cows come home; however, when personalities collide, it’s likely to end in behavioral road kill.
What’s more, the words used to describe us aren’t always going to come out of love.
Take G.W. Bailey, for example. During his 40-year career, he has been described as lazy, slovenly, manipulative, arrogant, ignorant, power-hungry and curmudgeonly—and that’s just the beginning.
No, these adjectives have not been targeted at Bailey personally, but to his work. To clarify, Bailey is an enduring character actor who has often appeared as—shall we say—“disagreeable” characters on film and television. In fact, G.W. Bailey has made a career out of exploring some of the workplace’s most undesirable elements. His job performance has been impeccable.
When politely asked to justify his somewhat nefarious character choices, Bailey simply states: “I have always wanted to do work I’m proud of.” He smirks and continues, “Though you may question my judgment.”
His primary yardstick for script approval: “I tried to never do anything my grandmother couldn’t see.”
Judging by his rib-tickling resume, it’s also safe to say his grandmother had a great sense of humor.
Though much is presumed about the so-called “glamorous” business of show, Bailey quickly warns: “Don’t think that what I do is not a ‘business,’ it’s very much a business; I pay taxes like everyone else.”
He also relates to those among us who work for ourselves: “My business is me. I have to maintain integrity or I won’t get work.”
Despite his lengthy resume, three outstandingly ornery characters stand out: Staff Sergeant Luther Rizzo (“M*A*S*H”), Captain Thaddeus Harris (“Police Academy”) and Lt. Louie Provenza (“The Closer” and “Major Crimes”).
However, what others may see as character flaws, Bailey sees as flawless characters. How? In his work and in his life, G.W. Bailey looks for—and celebrates—humanity.
Bailey on Rizzo: “He was an adorable scoundrel, but he was also a survivor.”
Bailey on Provenza: “He is the most human of all three, but he unapologetically sees the world as he sees the world.”
Bailey on Harris: “He was a blowhard—a classic case of a character you ‘love to hate.’ He represents people you know in your own life, those you can openly hate from afar and rejoice when they get what’s coming to them.”
When looking for humanity in his work, Bailey also plays by one alarmingly simple rule: “I understand that all the characters I’ve portrayed—every one of them—has a mother or someone else who loves them. Thaddeus Harris would melt into a puddle of tears if he saw his mom.”
Nonetheless, G.W. Bailey’s most authentic displays of humanity are best seen in his actions off the screen. Though he reports the public is sometimes surprised to learn he actually has a loving family of his own, he insists that interviewers discuss his #1 passion, Sunshine Kids Foundation.
Established in 1982, Sunshine Kids Foundation is committed to providing positive group activities and emotional support for young cancer patients and their families. Bailey serves as Executive Director, his participation representing an ongoing tribute to his goddaughter, Brandy Aldridge, who succumbed to leukemia at age 17.
Many still ask: can I really find selfless, bona fide examples of humanity in today’s workplace? Well, what if we all used our mother’s or grandmother’s approval as a behavioral benchmark for business?
Better still, imagine what would happen if more of us focused on the humanity as opposed to the insanity in others.
Finally, what if every organization’s mission statement proudly declared support for the needs of our nation’s children?
Sure, if you want to cut a deal with “MASH’s” Rizzo—proceed with caution.
If you want your corporate trainer to be a Captain Harris wannabe—be afraid, be very afraid.
If you want to work hand in hand with Lt. Provenza—make sure you can handle the truth.
But, if you’re selected to be on the same team as G.W. Bailey—you’ve just been voted “most likely to succeed.” After all, Bailey has no shortage of characters or character.
As for those inevitable personality clashes—despite the various reasons you may concoct to dislike someone—always remember: “everyone is loved by someone.” Focus on solving the mystery behind the man and you may discover you actually like keeping your friends close and your enemies closer.
Marketer, publicist, business humorist, professional-courtesy advocate, branded-content writer, creative-development consultant, and entertaining motivational speaker Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of RediscoverCourtesy.org and the president of MindZoo, a marketing communications firm in Naples, Florida.
Photos: TOP — G.W. Bailey and Randall Kenneth Jones photo by Kevin Randall Jones; Photo 2 — G.W. Bailey as Lt. Provenza on “Major Crimes” (photo courtesy TNT) ; Photo 3 — G.W. Bailey photo by Kevin Randall Jones; BOTTOM — Randall Kenneth Jones.