Graduation advice

Casey is an actress/singer who lives in the New York City area. She has also lived in Washington DC and performed at the Kennedy Center and will be traveling this summer to the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival with the Blue Hill Troupe. She attended Skidmore College as a Theater/Psychology Double Major and Music Minor. As their motto says, she fully believes that “creative thought matters” and hopes to share her insight with young people entering or leaving college.

The day after I graduated college, I read my first movie star autobiography. I had no clue what the world was going to hold for me as a theater major and thought that by reading them I could learn how others had “made it”. While I hadn’t starred in my own TV series or banked a million bucks, I saw how the celebrities were just like me. I kept tidbits of information to share with my friends and would tell everyone what I was reading. I actually photocopied a page from Goldie Hawn’s book to my first boyfriend about HER first boyfriend. I yearned for a partner in the business just like Patrick Swayze and his wife who danced for years together before he was noticed in Dirty Dancing.
My brain fed on the incredible stories that happened to these people, like how Carol Burnett miraculously “found” enough money for her UCLA tuition in her mailbox one day or had a donor fund her move to New York on the terms he stay anonymous forever. Michael J Fox, who drove himself all the way from Canada to California, got his big break in Back to the Future and would film at night while he was doing Family Ties during the day. Steve Martin grew up in Anaheim as they were building Disneyland and would sell tickets outside the gates and perform magic/banjo as a youth before he found his strength in absurd comedy. Some found their talents in the funniest ways- comedian Tom Green was goofing around with his friends and family on Canadian public television and look where that got him: on MTV and married to Drew Barrymore!
The same way I told people about my own adventures, I would always give the highlights of the story to anyone who would listen. Was I hiding the fact that they also had to deal with depression or drug use? Did I tell anyone that auditions weren’t going so hot for myself? The greatest thing I learned by reading them was that there really was no making it. The dark secrets that many hold and the hard struggles that most people keep to themselves were very publicly written in their stories. I saw delicate timing of pills from Michael J. Fox as he tried to hide his Parkinson’s disease while filming Spin City. Famous songstress, Ethel Merman, would shout with her husband at home only to get applause and shouts on stage as she grew in popularity in such shows as Gypsy or Annie Get Your Gun on Broadway. Jane Fonda was quite surprised upon learning her phone wires were tapped in the 60s because of her personal opinions and choice to do international films. John Leguizamo ended up breaking the mold of the male Latino gangster/drug lord, but truly did live that life growing up in the Bronx.

After 10 years out of school, I have finally put down the autobiographies and started living my own adventures. My greatest advice to those starting their stories, is that it is ok that your stories can’t all be highlights. There will be rough times and there will be fun times. I’ve been reckless or made the wrong choices which brought pain to me or others around me. Again and again, people have let me down and I have let others down. Missed opportunities have remained regrets but there have also been opportunities and people that changed my life forever along the way. There was so much at the time that I had not experienced, I am glad that the stars to show me the way.

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