This summer I watched my kid perform live over three nights at the Hollywood Bowl, playing Sophie in Mamma Mia. I share this not to brag, but to mark a special moment in our adventure, and to illustrate what is possible.
Ten years ago, when she was 11, she played Mary in a local production of The Secret Garden, for a 240-seat house; the Hollywood Bowl is an 18,000-seat house, and looked close to capacity each night.
In both productions she opened the show alone on stage, in her nightgown, singing straight to the audience. The déjà vu was overwhelming. And the production was incredible.
Of course a few things were different—the size of the crowd, the jumbotron screens, the LA Philharmonic orchestra, the Tony-award-winning director, the IMDb records of her cast-mates.
Still, some things don’t change—I was at every show, just as I was when both my kids were performing at our local theatre. And as I was when Claire had softball games and vocal performances. I might have been the first on my feet at curtain call, as I typically am. And I’m as proud of her work now as I was then.
We didn’t move to LA at the first inclination that Dove might have professional-level talent and drive. I waited until it made as much sense as possible for our family’s situation, which gave me a chance to continue to see if she maintained a unwavering passion and desire to perform.
It also let her continue to train as a singer, and do more theatre so she was better prepared to compete when we did make the move.
And one day it finally felt right to go for it, rather than to wonder about it. Click To Tweet Or to fear looking back with regret.
We all know the odds are stacked against success. Simple math tells you that not everyone who wants to be a professional actor will succeed. And of the many who do succeed, most will not ever play leading roles or do high-profile projects.
I never questioned whether my kid had what it would take to succeed. I knew she did. But I did question whether the universe would line up for us. Talent and drive are only part of the equation for success. They are the critical first ingredients. Then, at some point, you have to take a leap of faith. Action is what sets possibility into motion.
You never know where a leap of faith will take you. Click To Tweet Our journey continues to unfold. I talk every day to young actors and their parents, many of whom are trying to weigh the pros and cons of making some kind of leap of faith of their own.
There is no formula for success in Hollywood. But educating yourself on how the industry works is a good step toward raising your odds of success.
Educate yourself to save precious time and money, and to be inspired when the going gets challenging. Read everything you can from reputable sources. Listen to podcasts. If you are a young actor, watch quality performances and learn from them. What is powerful and effective? What are those actors, singers, and dancers doing that move you, and how are they doing it?
Even if you live in a truly remote place with no real acting training or local theatre available, you can study great performances via film, TV, and YouTube.
There is every way to do this. Is it for everybody? Of course not. And if you (or your child, if you’re a parent) don’t want it more than anything else, I do suggest you find a different dream—there are so many great ones to pursue in this big, amazing world.
There will always be doubters, who either out of a well-meant effort to protect you from disappointment, or from their own compromised dreams, try to dissuade you from your dream.
It takes great courage to believe in yourself enough to try over and over in the face of what are obviously significant odds. Developing that kind of courage is its own gift. It will serve you no matter where life takes you.
You can’t know where chasing a dream will lead. Sometimes it leads to a new dream. Sometimes it leads to worlds you could have never imagined. But I do believe that dreams deserve a chance to be made real.
And if the dream that won’t let go is to share your gift on a very big stage, I am here to affirm that it can happen. Even if you start far away from Los Angeles or New York.
We have been very fortunate, but it was my frustration in starting from scratch with little reliable direction that pushed me to develop my own resources for other parents and young actors. A lot of what I offer is free—this blog (subscribe!) my podcast, the various resources on this website.
I have also written a helpful book, The Hollywood Parents Guide, which is literally the book I wish had existed when we began this adventure. It’s available on Amazon HERE and is considered by many at this point to be the best resource around for parents of young actors. It’s made a big difference for a lot of families, and I’m proud of that.
Still, sometimes nothing beats a one-on-one conversation for more personal advice and specific questions. If you’re ready for some direct support, sign up for an hour consultation session with me, either via Skype or in person in Burbank, CA. Just go to my Consultations Page at click the link to my scheduling calendar at the bottom of the page. I look forward to talking with you!
*Photo credit @mathewimaging