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Quentin Tarantino

The visionaries who took on the world without any grades

These creatives didn’t care much for school – worked out OK for them, right?

We get it. It’s difficult to not focus on the end result when you’ve been studying for two years and your brain is hardwired with the notion that life has been leading up to this momen – your A-level results. It’s easy to get the idea that they’re the be all and end all. But fuck that.

A few bad marks don’t mean your life is over, just look at Ryan Gosling, Giselle, Alexander McQueen, Rihanna, Tracey Emin, Drake, Cara Delevingne, to name a few. Let’s look at a few people who took on the world without needing any grades.



Even visionary auteur Quentin Tarantino didn’t have an A-level equivalent. He dropped out of school at 15 or 16 and honed his film-making craft simply by paying obsessive attention to movies. “When people ask me if I went to film school, I tell them, "No, I went to films,” he once said. “When you have tunnel vision, when you have very limited interests, you know, you better pick up a lot. I was only interested in movies.”


After being discovered at JFK airport in New York aged 14 – definitely with no A-levels – Kate Moss began her career. “I kind of lost interest in school,” she reportedly once said. “I was never really that interested anyway. I was never academic. I didn’t really go to school as much as I should have.” A year later she did her first cover shoot and then landed Calvin Klein’s Obsession campaign. Not bad.


“Still I spit knowledge, dropped out of high school, skipped college,” rapped Jay-Z on NYMP. But that had no effect on him becoming rap royalty and one of the richest musicians in the world. In his autobiography, Decoded, he wrote: “When you step outside of school and have to teach yourself about life, you develop a different relationship to information. I’ve never been a purely linear thinker. You can see it in my rhymes.” Not everyone is a school system thinker.


Johnny Depp similarly left school at 16 to join garage band The Kids. Okay, so, they barely made ends meet and Depp lived for months in a friend's '67 Chevy Impala, but now he’s one of the best-known actors in the world. And he’s now in a super-group with Alice Cooper so the rockstar thing did eventually work out. He told Rolling Stone: “To me dropping out of school was much more about curiousity. It wasn’t like I was some malicious kid who wanted to kick an old lady in the shin and run, you know? I just wanted to find out what was out there.”


Drew Barrymore has one of those Hollywood stars, but had no interest in school. “Becoming emancipated at 14, my life wasn’t normal. I didn’t have to go to school, so I didn’t,” she reportedly once said. “I was rebellious by nature. I spent my 20s focusing on my company, Flower Films, and producing movies.” Now she’s an iconic actor, producer and author, as well as godmother to Frances Bean Cobain.

So, yeah. Don't sweat it, basically.