You thought you’re having a tough time having to fight for your way to the top? Imagine having a dream of being an actor or a stand-up comedian, while battling dyslexia.
We all know our dear Jim Carrey, the actor who made us laugh in Dumb and Dumber and Mask, but who also made us cry in The Truman Show. For all of you who thought his career and success are the result of a cheerful life and good education, I’d recommend you continue reading. Because his success isn’t the result of a great investment of money in education or great training. He had to work hard and pass many hurdles to get to where he is today.
James Eugene Carrey, as many of you might relate, was the quiet kid in class. He didn’t have many friends and as an undiagnosed dyslexic, he often struggled in school. But he discovered that through laughter and humor, he can connect with people. It brought him friends, but also troubles at school. His teachers would always complain that he disrupts the class and that he’s always loud. But there was one teacher that always supported him. Lucy, a teacher at his school, always found a way to make Jim calm and happy. While other teachers complained, she saw his talent, and rather than disciplining him, she made a deal that if he was quiet in class and did his work, he could perform his acts at the end of the school day. This way, the students all enjoyed his hilarious performances, and Jim, who loved making people laugh, had his own little show.
Maybe his childlike personality is a result of him losing his teen years and never experiencing what it’s like to be a kid and have a calm and happy childhood. Instead of hanging out with his friends, as most teenagers do, he had to work night shifts at a factory, and go to school during the day, so his family can be able to survive in the harsh district they lived in. The pressure of the constant struggle, and the effort to keep his family’s poverty secret to avoid embarrassment at school draw its toll on him. He quit school at the age of 16, and his family moved to Canada without knowing what they would do, or where they would go. You would think that living in a beat-up old van with 4 other people for 8 months would make him give up on his dreams, but it didn’t. Instead, his poverty and the feeling of inferiority is what made him try even harder to succeed.
He finally got his first public performance in the Yuk-Yuk Comedy Club in Toronto. The publicist of the club, Eleanor Goldhar, noticed that Jim is different than the other comedians. “You could see him watching and listening – observing closely, paying attention to everything that was going on” she has stated.
In the beginning, he made his living by performing as the opening act for successful comics Buddy Hackett and Rodney Dangerfield, before moving to Hollywood in 1983, where he starred in a movie called “Introducing…Janet”. His big screen debut came in 1984, in the movie “Finders Keepers”, but the real success came with the main role in “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective”. After that, he acted in many best selling box-office movies.
Jim never lost his faith in magic. When he wasn’t working in Hollywood, he would park on Mulholland Drive and say “Everyone wants to work with me. I’m a really good actor. I have all kinds of great movie offers”. It was his way of motivating himself, and a way of convincing himself that better times are coming.
He even wrote himself a check for $10 million, dated it Thanksgiving 1995, added the notation “for acting services rendered,” and carried it in his wallet from that day on. His tendency to never give up paid off, and in 1995, after the huge success of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber, his asking price rose to $20 million, double of what he “checked in”. When his father passed away in 1994, he placed the check on his coffin as a tribute to the man who sparked and nurtured his dream to become a star.
So, here is a person who lived through hell and fought his way through it all. He could have easily turned to drugs, alcohol or crime, but he didn’t. He never gave up. Instead, he used those hard-times he was in to motivate himself to try harder in life. He used the pain he was as a fuel to keep going forward and making something out of his life.
That’s what I call a true inspiration.