Boy, parents cannot catch a break around these parts lately, eh? Seems like every other day this past month I’m writing about unsupportive parents or parents who give bad advice or some other way that parents screw up their kids en route to college.
Today we’ll continue our gentle constructive criticism of misguided parents, but at the other end of the spectrum. Kelley’s parents are supportive enough, but they’re pushing her in the wrong direction.
I would love to attend a school that has an undergraduate major for broadcast journalism and communications.
Good start, because many colleges have these majors, especially communications. Broadcast journalism is a tough business these days, so if you’re going to do it, aim high. Go to Missouri, Northwestern, Syracuse, USC, Emerson, or someplace like that — it’ll give you a leg up in the business. Especially Missouri. 🙂
I have an idea of what schools I want to attend, but my parents have some different ideas. They will support me in anything I do,
but they would rather me attend a school like Berkeley or a dramatic arts school because they believe that I have a special spark in me and that I could go places.
Maybe you could, but a) do you even WANT to go to those places, and b) are you committed to working your ass off for years to get to those places? Those are the key questions.
I really do enjoy being on stage and performing and I do very well in school, but I just don’t think that there’s enough money or support when looking at the odds for acting.
OK, I believe that you enjoy being on stage and performing, but judging by your email, your parents are the only ones who are pushing that as a career option. Regardless of what career path you choose, YOU have to be the one who chooses it, not someone else (not even your parents, who probably know you better than anyone else, but still don’t know you as well as you know yourself).
Yes, the show-business odds are against you, and when that’s the case, you need TONS of desire and passion to break through and make it. More on that in a second.
If I knew that I would be some sort of star someday, by all means I would continue to do what I love and pursue it in college,
Well, sure — that’s true of all of us. If I knew I was going to be a big Hollywood star, I’d move there tomorrow.
but it’s rough competition and I just don’t want to be like the rest of the millions who want to become celebrities. I want to be more logical.
That’s a very natural and sensible risk-averse attitude to have — but I think that those who actually make it in show business are the ones who plow forth and do it anyway. Again, more on that in second.
What do you think I should do?
Well, first I’ll give you my usual disclaimer that all I know about you and your situation is contained in this email, so I’m probably lacking the complete story and I admit that up front. BUT, having said that — no, I don’t think you should pursue “show business,” for a couple of reasons.
1) In this email, you seem to allude more to a desire to be famous and a “celebrity” rather than being successful at a particular craft — you know, acting, singing, dancing, jumping over the Grand Canyon on a unicycle, etc.
If you just want to be famous (or at least infamous), you don’t have to be good at anything — you just have to be a) attractive, and b) willing to embarrass yourself with lewd behavior on television. See: the Kardashians, Montana Fishburne, the cast of Jersey Shore, and literally thousand of other people known to the world for no good reason at all except for being drunk on E! or releasing a sex tape.
You really don’t have to invest a lot of time in school for any of that. Use your school investment for a long-term career.
2) Here’s the thing about show business, and although I’m not in show business myself, I believe it to be true. I heard Blackie Lawless say it once in an interview (Blackie is the lead singer of W.A.S.P., one of my favorite bands of all time).
He said something like this (I’m paraphrasing): It’s not just enough to WANT to make it big, because everybody WANTS to be famous and successful. You have to absolutely NEED it, because unless you NEED it in your bones, then you probably will get beaten down, chewed up and spit out by Hollywood long before you make it. You’ll quit.
I believe this. It makes sense to me that there are so many people out there who are super-hungry for fame — absolutely desperate for it — that people who are just kinda half-heartedly interested in making it big don’t really stand a chance. I’m sure there are exceptions, but I bet they’re relatively few.
And so far anyway, Kelley, you definitely sound like someone whose heart is NOT totally into making it big in Hollywood. If that’s the case, I’d avoid putting all your chips on a career that you don’t seem to be that into.
However, if you like the stage and performing and singing and all that, then by all means, don’t stop. You don’t have to — you’ll have plenty of opportunity to do this stuff in college and in the communities where you live, for the rest of your life. Every town seems to have choirs and community theater groups and whatnot. Get involved in those and you won’t have to sacrifice your love of those things in order to have a stable career.
— OK, that’s all I have today. What about you all? Any advice for Kelley about the stage, the screen, Hollywood, parents who want you to do something you really aren’t into? Let us know in the comments below!