My new friend James McCracken drops these words of wisdom.
It’s been a seven-year journey.
Constant challenges and significant setbacks.
An amazing community of friends showing up right on time with their financial investments, their connections, their ideas, their prayers and their encouragement to propel the effort forward.
Today, at 9 a.m., on the set of the forthcoming feature film On Fire, Director Sean McNamara will bark out for the first time the words, “And………Action!”
My friends, from financing to filming, every part of this has been a wild ride—some of which I have shared, much I have not. But nothing has been as surreal as selecting actors to play real life characters. Roles required for the movie include a Hall-of-Fame announcer named Jack Buck, two incredible parents, a brilliant physician, passionate nurses, and an important custodial member. We filled roles for my siblings and friends, baseball players and fire fighters, bartenders and inmates. (Yeah, you gotta see the movie). Dozens of roles had to be filled.
So, which role yielded the most auditions?
With more than 800 submissions, the most desired role was …. little John O’Leary.
Yup, little John. We had amazing boys from all over the world read for this role. Many of these actors are already in movies, active on daytime television, and are known for the outstanding work they do. Of the 800, who did we choose?
A kid who has never been to Hollywood, had participated in only one television program and a couple smaller parts in movies, but also a kid who compared to the 800 other amazing actors, was clearly made for playing this role.
I sat with little John O’Leary last week (his former name, and the one he’ll return to once filming wraps in six weeks, is James McCracken).
I asked James his audition secret to bringing out the mischievousness, the precociousness, the joy, the agony and the determination of the character he was hoping to portray.
He smiled sweetly, looked away, gathered his answer and then said to me that right before the camera started rolling his dad gave him some advice.
What was it?
“My dad told me to, ‘Be yourself. Be perfectly you.’ So, that’s what I did.”
My friends, I love this kid. Love his heart. Love his parents. Love everything about him. (Well everything except that he’s a Cubs fan.)
What has taken me a lifetime to learn is what got James McCracken an important role in a movie.
More importantly, though, the simple challenge his dad offered him is one we all need to be reminded of in whatever roles we assume in life: Be yourself. Be perfectly you.
That will be enough.
Today is your day. Live Inspired.