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Want to Be a Hollywood Star? Here Are Some Tips... - 2002-08-30

Many young people dream of finding success in Hollywood, the entertainment capital of the world. A Hollywood consultant says a career in show business requires planning and perseverance. David Bowman, who teaches a course at UCLA on getting the job you want in Hollywood, offers his advice.

Mr. Bowman is a business consultant who has also worked as an actor. Among his Hollywood credits: he appeared for two years on the hit television series Dallas and had continuing roles in the popular daytime dramas Days of Our Lives and General Hospital.

But he tells his students there is more to Hollywood than performing in front of a camera. "Show business consists of every other element that every other business has too," he said. "There are accountants. There are research and development people. There are technicians. There are administrators. Every other function that's in every business that you can think of is also in show business."

Still, Hollywood is not easy to break into. Mr. Bowman says success in any part of the entertainment business requires a plan.

"There's an old adage that says if you don't know where you're going, you're going to end up somewhere else," he said. "And it's very true. So you really have to do a long-term plan for your career, if you're going to go into show business or any other business."

The Hollywood consultant calls the process "stair-stepping," progressing step by step toward your goals. Mr. Bowman once counselled an accountant who wanted to get an accounting job at a studio. After that, he says, the man could land the job he wanted by marketing himself and making new contacts.

"You go into the commissary, into the cafeteria," he said. "You find people and start talking to people. You begin to let people know what you're doing."

The consultant says people who are interested in acting should first get the right training and that can be done almost anywhere. School drama departments and community theaters offer valuable opportunities for learning the craft of acting. There are other opportunities to hone one's acting skills in regional theater centers, like New York.

But he keeps reminding students that show business has opportunities in many areas, and that all have their own particular glamour. He says that is true even of low-end jobs in movies and television.

"It's the old story about the fellow who follows the elephant in the circus with the broom," he said. "And somebody says, by gosh, why don't you get out of there? Why don't you stop doing this? And the fellow responds, 'What! Get out of show business?'"

The consultant tells would-be Sharon Stones or Steven Spielbergs that whatever part of show business they hope to find success in, they had better be ready to roll up their sleeves and work long hours. Behind the glamour of Hollywood is a demanding industry, for the stars in front of the camera and the studio workers behind it.