Hello Rene,

My son, Robert, is a really talented actor and wants to forge a career for himself in show business.

His father and I both think he has lots of potential and are keen for him to receive as much experience as possible. Robert’s school puts on two shows each year and the latest production is a version of The Wizard Of Oz. We were hoping our son would get to play one of the lead roles – but instead he’s been cast as a Munchkin!

We know it’s silly but Robert is really disappointed, especially as the kids playing the lead roles aren’t very talented and don’t really want to pursue a career in the arts.

We’re tempted to have a talk to Robert’s teachers to see if they can help but don’t want to over-step. What would you suggest Rene? We don’t want to become showbiz parents but we also want our son to be happy and follow his dreams…


Caroline, Nebraska

Dear Caroline:

I think you and your husband have a great opportunity to teach Robert about, not only show business, but life. There are three big lessons, from the play itself, he can draw from being cast as a Munchkin instead of The Man Behind the Curtain.

FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD: Glinda the Good Witch tells Dorothy early on to “Follow the Yellow Brick road” with the assurance if she keeps her head down, and follows the path, she will arrive at the place she wants to be. Remember, it wasn’t easy at first, what with the tornado, then the terrifying winged monkeys and the sleep-inducing poppy field. But she sticks with it and before you know it The Emerald City is on the horizon.

The lesson for Robert here is while road may look bright and shiny and sparkly, there’s some tough stuff along the way. It’s wholly unrealistic for him to think he would start the journey right there at the gates of the Emerald City; life doesn’t work that way.  Wading through the muck and mire makes you tough, prepared for what you might find around the corner and instills you with a better appreciation once you get there.  Robert should start by taking the smaller roles, knocking them out of the park and continuing to do that. When he masters those smaller ones, the bigger roles will come. If he keeps his head down, with a focus on where he wants to be and takes it a step at a time, he will eventually get there.

HAVE A BRAIN, A HEART AND COURAGE: Of course these were all the things the characters that Dorothy met along so desperately wanted. The Scarecrow wanted a brain, the Tin Man wanted a heart and the Cowardly Lion wanted courage. Robert and you will need to be smart if he wants a career in show business. You will need to plan out his path and figure out a way to get there, including taking roles that you and his father deem beneath his talent. But you have to know it won’t always be that way. The heart is his passion and will fuel him when things look bleak. Teach him to draw on his long-term vision and plan that he has set for himself. Thinking long-term is not always easy for young people so you’ll have to help out there. Then Robert will need courage to continue going on auditions and taking those lesser roles, that while not marquee will help him hone his craft and get his name out there.

THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN ISN’T REAL: Then there is this lesson, or theme, if you will, which we see played out time and again in so many industries. The Man Behind The Curtain isn’t all he’s cracked up to be. There will always be people in jobs, roles, positions that you feel don’t deserve to be there and will leave you scratching your head as to how they managed that. The fact is life isn’t fair. Bad things happen to good people and bad people get good gigs. It is the unpredictable nature of this thing we call life. You control what you can and the rest, you let have to let go. There will always be someone ahead of you, better than you, with more money or marbles and that’s just the way it is. You have two choices; you can focus on how unfair and unjust that is and become a very small and bitter person, or you can shrug your shoulders, chalk it up to one of the many mysteries of life and go on forging your own path. I think you know which one is healthier for you.

Instead of talking to Robert’s teachers and asking for a better role for your son, how about explaining to Robert some of what I laid out, then help him to become an Award-winning Munchkin with the knowledge that once a Munchkin does not mean always a Munchkin?

Good luck mommy!

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