Years ago, around 1995-1997 or so, I was bored and wanted to play with my laptop. Type something. That was, and still is, part of my idea of fun. Actually, it was a desktop, come to think of it.
So I challenged myself: I was a big movie fan. Watched one or two movies most every day. In fact, the computer at the video store I frequented, Video Revolution in Iowa City, IA, had a counter that was three digits, going up to 999. During the 8 years I spent in Iowa City, I flipped it. Twice.
Anyway, I challenged myself to come up with the names of 500 stars. Off the top of my head. What qualified as a star? An actor I’d heard of either on film or TV. I figured if I, an admittedly rabid film fan but in Iowa City, had heard of an actor, they must have “made it” on some level. At least they were big enough for me to have heard of. No need for billion-dollar box office or anything like that.
Why did I do this? The idea was that if I could come up with that many names of people who have done well enough for me to have heard of them, then certainly it was possible for me to do it. Okay, my hopes were not pinned on this, but it was what I needed to do at the time. And it was to fight off arguments that would say, “You’ll never make it. Who do you think you are, thinking you can have success there? What makes you think you can be a star? Be realistic.”
Anyway, it took a good portion of the night, but I did it, “proving” to me that it is realistic. I can be a “star”, or at least enough of a working actor who’s made it far enough that a kid in the midwest would have heard of me. It’s not my goal–working actor living at least as comfortably out in Los Angeles as I am where I live now is the goal–we’ll see what happens when I make it that far.
Nobody can tell me this can’t be done. I can, or at least used to be able to, rattle off the names of 500 people who have done it at least on the level for which I’m looking.
At least at the time, I had no idea how valuable that exercise was. Now, over a decade later, I still think of making that list and I remember, as Russell Crowe said on winning his Oscar: “It’s possible.”