"It's not enough to be Hungarian, you must have talent, too." This slogan about Hungarians in Hollywood comes to mind when reading an article by a former Hungarian Consul in California, Balázs Bokor, published in a recent issue of Diplomacy & Trade.
I had the opportunity to work in the City of Angels for 5 years. I lived a diplomat`s diverse life in the most culturally diverse of the largest US cities. L.A. is the creative capital of the world. The Hungarian Consul General (CG) in Los Angeles has authority over 19 US federal states: 2/3 of the 50 US states` territory! While in this position, I made unforgettable journeys from Texas to New Mexico, from Alaska to Hawaii and to every part of California.
These official tours enriched me both professionally and personally in ways no other job could. And everywhere I went, I met Hungarians… A founding father of an important film studio in Hollywood, the epicenter of the motion picture industry used to say: “it's not enough to be Hungarian; you must have talent, too”.
He was right! So many talented Hungarian Americans who are proud of their roots have contributed, through their achievements, to the American success story. I was fortunate to be on the West Coast where the famous Hungarian Americans could serve as Honorary Hungarian Ambassadors helping me to facilitate Hungarian-American relations even better.
No one really knows what counts as the most important activity of a diplomat. But beyond any doubt, communication is at the top of the list. For me, it was really useful to focus on giving lectures. I delivered 60 of them, mostly in university environments. I happily noted the interest in Hungary in the eyes of the young people.
And, the majority of ‘friends’ came from the young when I started the Consulate Facebook page, an unprecedented activity for a Hungarian diplomatic mission. The media network of our mission was extremely wide, so we did not face any difficulties covering our constituency. This worked well politically when I met the Governors of the states I visited, and when I briefed Senators to enhance the image of Hungary.
It also worked well economically when I was lobbying a company to set up a big chainsaw factory in Hungary, as I tried to increase the interest of the L.A. public transport authority to purchase Hungarian buses and when the Raleigh Budapest Film Studio opened its gates. It worked well culturally when the Consulate organized over 200 events for the ‘Hungarian Culture also on the West Coast’ program and when dozens and dozens of Hungarian films were screened at various L.A. festivals.
I was honored to harvest the fruits of my 5-year performance: ‘My Hollywod’, my popular book was published, earning me the title ‘Knight of the Hungarian Culture’; the L.A. Council on Foreign Relations presented me with the Edwin Hubble Award; I received the ‘1956 Remember Hungary’ recognition. But above all, the feeling to be proud of the achievements of Hungarian Americans, the idea that we can join together in the interest of Hungary – that is what sealed my mission.
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