One of the most difficult careers any person can pursue is acting. Thousands upon thousands of young wannabe actors and actresses embark on Hollywood each year hoping to make it big as an actor. Within two years of acting classes, head shots, agents, and auditions 95% of those wannabees quit. Only about 2% of the people who attempt to “make it” are able to pay their bills through acting work and less than 1% actually becomes famous. And the majority of the ones who become A-list famous have either a father or spouse already in the industry. Needless to say, to get a speaking role on a major television show is a great task – one that requires beating the odds.
The high cost of living in Los Angeles combined with the daily rejection is the lethal combination to end most actor’s dreams. I know. I lived in Hollywood for eight years and was part of the daily grind to “make it”. I was born with that sheer determination to give everything 110% and never, ever give up. I am incredibly grateful God gave me that special gift because I know most people struggle with perseverance. After I had lived in Hollywood about a year my old high school friend Caroline called me one day and said, “I think I want to come join you out in LA and pursue an acting career as well. Do you want to be roommates?” I was thrilled at the fact I would have good company and a friend to run around with but I was worried for Caroline’s well-being. Would she get eaten alive by this crazy, rejection-filled industry? Caroline is a classic beauty and could easily be a body double for Michelle Pfeiffer, but to be successful in Hollywood takes a lot more than good looks. It requires shear bull-in-a-china-shop determination, unshakable confidence and, of course, talent. I admit, I didn’t think Caroline had the determination or confidence to shake out a successful acting career, but she came and joined me in Hollywood anyways. As the years passed by, both of us qualified to join the Screen Actors Guild since we both were background actors in numerous television shows and movies.
Years later, I decided to move to Austin, Texas – the “Live Music Capital of the World” to pursue my music career. I wished Caroline well and told her before I left, “Don’t ever quit. If you hang around here long enough you will eventually get your break. Don’t ever quit.” Caroline and I always kept in touch over the years. I always had a wrench in my stomach every time I asked her, “So, are you still acting?” because I didn’t want to hear the disappointing news, “Yeah, but no speaking roles yet.” The years swept by. I moved to Prague, met my husband, got married, had two children, and came back to Texas – meanwhile Caroline was still plugging away at her acting career in California.
During the Christmas holidays of 2008 my husband and I decided to take a family road trip to California so I could show him all of my old stomping grounds and rat-infested apartments I used to live in. We hit the road on January 6th, 2009. I called Caroline to share the news of our arrival and invite her to dinner in Los Angeles. On January 9th Caroline called me at the crack of dawn and said “I want to meet you for breakfast this morning. Can I come by your hotel?” I said, “Sure.” I was waiting in the lobby of our hotel when the door flung open and Caroline came waltzing in with the most luminous glow she could have provided every tanning bed in Hollywood with power that day. What’s going on? “I got the part – a speaking part! I am going to be a nurse on General Hospital! I am on my way to the studio right now!” Then the little-engine-who-could said, “Kate, the reason I wanted to come here and tell you is because this week is exactly ten years to the date that I moved to Hollywood to pursue my dreams. The reason I stayed here so long and never gave up is because of what you said to me before you moved to Texas.” What did I say to you? “You said never quit. Never, ever quit. I remembered those words, and I never quit because of you.”
Do you have a dream that you gave up on prematurely? What type of voices speak to you? Positive or negative? Are these voices coming from other people – or possibly yourself? As you read in Caroline’s story, it was a simple voice, a positive voice, that kept her focused and determined to be successful in acting for ten years – without giving up. The great Thomas Edison once said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
The reason people quit anything in life is 100% because a voice told them to. Sometimes those voices are family, a spouse, parent, sibling, a co-worker or perhaps a complete stranger. Many times the voice comes from within ourselves.
Is there a common denominator with any one person or persons in your life who are negatively influencing important decisions in your life? If any one person/s are influencing your life negatively you have one of two ways of handling them.
- You can remove that person from your inner circle or life by simply disassociating with them
- You can write a letter to them asking that they be supportive of your dreams in life.
I have told my husband many times that it is important as our children grow older that we pay attention to who their peers are. Why? I believe that up to a certain age, we are the most influential people in our children’s lives. But there comes a time when their peers have a greater influence on them than we do. Same rule applies to adults. We may have good intentions and begin a challenge with a positive frame of mind, but it can take one peer to destroy your dreams for you. Charlie “Tremendous” Jones once said, “In five years you will be the exact same person you are today, except for two things – the books you read and the people you meet.”