My daughter desires to be an actress. As a mother, I’m torn between encouraging her to go after what she is passionate about and injecting a healthy dose of realism into her lofty dreams.
It boils down to this: I want her to be happy. However, I know full well she won’t be happy if she’s starving! My daughter is an intelligent young lady. She has the potential to go to just about any college and pursue any career she wants. Even careers that pay enough that she won’t need to live in my basement until she’s 40.
My quandary, however, goes a bit deeper. As a fresh high school graduate, I was strongly encouraged to go into an field not because of my interest, but because of its financial security. The result was a decent paying job and a passionless employee. Yet, I was very thankful for the secure job as a single woman whose family had since moved out-of-state. Now in my 40s, I find myself involved in projects and hobbies that closely relate to the areas that I was really more interested in, but discouraged from pursuing. So what does a mom, who desires to one day be an empty-nester, do?
Step one – academics first. Even though my daughter doesn’t want to go into a science field at the moment, I don’t want to close doors for her by not pushing her in areas outside of her comfort zone. That means she’s taking advanced science courses, because she has the ability to take advanced science course. Interests change and opportunities come along unexpectedly. My goal, academically, is to keep all doors open until they are ready to be closed.
Step two – fill the passion box through experiences, training, and real life examples. That means I look for theater opportunities, sign my daughter up for voice lessons, register her with an agency, and enroll her in related classes. Not only does it take the mystique out of an industry, it gives her a chance to see if she really does want to go in this direction. There is nothing wrong with dreaming big, but most don't just fall into their dreams. They work, and work hard, for them.
This past Saturday, I spent two hours sitting in a corner of a room while my daughter takes a film acting class with local actor, Gordon Michaels. The goal of the class is to prepare kids for a film audition. Since the film industry has been coming to Michigan more and more because of tax breaks, my daughter has been scouring the internet for audition opportunities. Several movies have been filmed just a mile from our home in our quaint-looking downtown area. Seeing movie cameras along the downtown shops as we drive to the library is not only creating more mystique, but fueling the acting bug even more.
As part of “step two”, I get to spend my Saturdays for the next couple of months watching my daughter learn the ins and outs from a working actor on how to impress casting agents. Who knows, maybe she’ll prove me wrong. Maybe, just maybe, she’ll make it to the big screen, or even more to her liking, the big stage on Broadway. Until then, I plan to keep all doors open, whether they are marked "Financially Secure", “Some Unknown Interest of the Future” or "Dreamin' Big".