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Oct 26 2006 7:41 AM
Talent scout gives kids tips on reaching dreams


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Ten-year-old Courtney Whitelock listens intently to Peter Sklar, a talent scout and producer, who came to speak to young hopefuls in New Milford last week.
Talent scout Peter Sklar has become an expert on what breeds success -- not only for the child actor/actress yearning to become the next Julia Roberts, but for those who want to be oceanographers or astronauts.

Sklar's uncanny wisdom about how to breathe life into dreams, culled from 30 years in show business, proved inspirational to budding young performers and parents who attended a lecture and interview process he offered Friday night at the Academy of Dance Arts in New Milford.

"Don't let people talk you out of your dreams,'' advised the 53-year-old Westchester, N.Y., scout whose protègès include Reese Witherspoon, Mischa Barton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zachary Ty Bryan and Rick Schroeder.

In Sklar's list of steadfast rules for success, the Harvard-educated musician emphasized that many dreams are doused because people are afraid to make them come true. Anybody who truly wants to be on the stage or in movies must tune out those who fear the competition and rejection -- and push the performer to have a fall-back position.

"If you want to be a performer and you spend all your time pursuing something else -- well, you're not going to be a performer,'' said Sklar, who has a master's degree in education with a concentration in counseling and adolescent development.

And that holds true for any other ambition, he said. One has to believe in the dream and then go for it.

ln the Hollywood and Broadway

That is not to say that years of dance, voice and acting lessons, and frequent auditions and networking with industry folks for opportunities, are not a part of realizing the dream.

If someone suffers from poor self-esteem, no amount of beauty, talent or personality will cover that up and the job will be lost to someone else, Sklar said.

At many auditions, the casting director doesn't care what people answer, but forms an opinion based on their body language, eye movement and attitude.

"You have to like you,'' Sklar said.

Nothing defeats any performer more than being a fake. "If I can't tell who you are, you are useless to me.''

Everyone has doubts, fears and worries. But, like a scary vampire who becomes nothing less than a harmless bat when exposed to light, personal misgivings lose their power when one is able to express them, Sklar said.

"You have to practice every day being aware of how you really feel about you,'' he said.

Two other keys are healthy eating habits -- lots of water, green vegetables, limited caffeine and sugar, and handwashing -- and staving off romantic relationships until one's career has been clearly established.

"Unhappy and unhealthy people end up unemployed,'' Sklar said.

As for college, Sklar is a big believer that advanced education is a must "if you don't want to be stupid.'' But the education cannot be too narrow or one will end up a bore in real life, he declared.

"You need to major in something that makes you more interesting to talk to,'' Sklar said. "You need to choose something -- history, sociology, psychology -- that will make you have a wider perspective on life.''

And, he said, "If you do these things that I suggest, you will be unstoppable."

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Posted by: BarbfromMinnesota Sat, Oct 28 2006
I was glad to read this excellent article on talent scout Peter Sklar. Both my daughters have attended his beginnings workshop several times. My oldest daughter when she was 9 years old! They receive unforgetable insights into the performing industry they would not have gotten in our hometown. Terrific professional coaching, off-Broadway acting experience, life-changing eating habits, but most important, they come away each time with incredible self-esteem and self-confidence skills. Every time Mr. Sklar comes back to Minnesota for a lecture, he always makes time to visit with our family. His recent lectures in October in our state were packed! I was happy to read this article on an individual who has had, and continues to have, such a positive impact on my two daughter's lives!
Barb from Minnesota



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