Ever wonder how successful people achieve their goals?
How did Oprah manage to dominate the television and media world? Did Steve Jobs always have a knack for gadgets and gizmos? When Neil Armstrong made the choice to become an astronaut, did he envision himself as being the first person to land on the moon?
Every week, I receive more than one email from young actors asking me for advice. “How did you get your first SAG acting job?” “What steps can I take to grow my social media following?” “What was it like working with James Franco?”
As proud as I am of my success, I still believe (and hope) that I have not seen my best days yet. Each day, I am reminded that I still have ways to go. With that said, I often reflect on what keeps me motivated to continue the pursuit of acting: seeing the light before the light is even there.
What does that even mean? How can you see light before it’s there. Well first, I use that phrase as a metaphor. One of the things that keeps me going is, I’ve made a choice (for myself) to envision my life and career of how I would like it to go, take actions to support that vision, and then I surrender.
When I first moved to New York City, I shared a 2 bedroom apartment with a young actor named Shiloh. He was a phenomenal being. Very aware and much ahead of his time. When the sun would rise, I would wake up to hearing Shiloh singing softly in the next room. His voice sounded like an angelic soul that was preparing for a concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown Los Angeles.
As I got to know Shiloh more, he confessed his secret to me. “Blake, all I want to do with my life is sing and act. I want to be able to utilize these two gifts and find a way to change the world.”
From that point on, Shiloh knew that at some point in his life, he would be singing and acting for a living. He sang everyday strengthening his vocal cords. When our landlord heard him singing “Ave Maria” in the laundry room, he asked Shiloh, “Why on earth are you singing all the time?” With ease and flow, Shiloh responded, “I’m getting myself”.
Each night after Shiloh got home from his Personal Assistant job, Shiloh would retreat to our living room and turn on a classic film. He watched films such as “Chinatown,” “The Godfather,” “The Color Purple,” “Mahogany,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Driving Miss Daisy,” and “Forrest Gump” to name a few. In the wee hours of the morning, before the coffee had brewed, I could hear the chatter of a television. Shiloh was up watching a TV show before he would have to head to work. I remember Shiloh telling me how he wanted to make sure he was always prepared for his big break.
Long story short, (or short story long?), Shiloh ended up getting his first break. He got the lead role in a TV series where he was acting and singing. The show went on to have 5 great seasons and was the number one show for many years and has gone down in history as a classic.
Shiloh’s attitude and persistence to never give up was a great reminder for myself. Did Shiloh suffer disappointment leading up to his big break? Oh yeah, lots of it! He was fired from his Personal Assistant position because he kept having to take off work for auditions. At one point, I remember helping Shiloh sell some of his guitars and musical instruments on the street because he needed to use that money to pay his rent.
My point of bringing up this story about Shiloh is that, yes, Shiloh had an inner knowing of where he wanted to go and how he wanted his life to turn out. But more importantly, Shiloh made a distinct choice to never give up and he made it a point to BELIEVE that his dream would come true. To be honest, Shiloh’s life didn’t turn out exactly how he imagined…it turned out better. Not only did Shiloh get a TV show where he was acting and singing; after the show ended, Shiloh received a Tony for ‘Best Actor in a Musical’. After that, he was nominated for numerous awards for both his singing and acting.
I think that’s what I admired most about Shiloh: He made a choice and stuck by it. Shiloh saw the spotlight shining on him, even before Hollywood knew his name.
Are there any choices that you would like to make or declare for yourself? Feel free to leave your answers in the comments section below.
Until next time, keep shining…..