Talent scout gives kids tips on reaching dreams
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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