The adolescent girl from Tennessee is standing on the stage of a drama summer camp in upstate New York. It's a beautiful day. But the girl doesn't feel beautiful. She's not the leggy, glamorous Hollywood type. In fact, she describes herself as dorky.
Since she was six years old, Reese Witherspoon has wanted to be a country singer. And Dolly Parton is her idol. But this flat-chested wisp of a girl is no Dolly Parton. Nevertheless, all of this summer she's been acting, dancing and singing---giving it her best.
Play to your strengths. If you're going to make it in this business, it's not going to be on sexy—that's not who you are. Better focus on what you're good at. Celebrate yourself.
Despite three years of lessons, at the end of camp her coaches tell her to forget about singing. They suggest she think about another career. If Reese did have talent, it was hiding under her skinny, mousy frame and her Coke-bottle glasses.
Still, she takes their words to heart. After all, why shouldn't she believe the professionals?
But back at home in Nashville, her mother — a funny, happy, upbeat person — wouldn't let her mope. Her father, a physician, encouraged her to achieve in school. So she worked hard at everything and was accepted at Stanford University.
And at age 19, she got a part in a low-budget movie called Freeway. That led to a substantial role in the movie Pleasantville. But her big break came with Legally Blonde.
Well, she decided, "if you can't sing and you aren't glamorous, play to your strengths. If you're going to make it in this business, it's not going to be on sexy — that's not who you are. Better focus on what you've good at. Celebrate yourself." And then came the offer that took her back to her Nashville roots — playing the wife of tormented country star Johnny Cash. A singing role.
All of a sudden the old fears were back. She was so nervous on the set, a reporter wrote, she "kept a sick bucket" nearby and admitted she "would go backstage after a singing scene and shake." But she didn't give up on the movie or herself.
The humor and drive she learned at home overcame the self-doubt learned on that summer stage. She spent 6 months taking singing lessons again. She learned to play the Autoharp. And the hard work built up her confidence.
Last March, Reese Witherspoon walked up on another stage, the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, and accepted the Oscar as Best Actress for her heartbreaking, heartwarming singing role as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line.
Finally, as you read these accounts of Reese Witherspoon, consider the obstacles she met. The lesson of the story, I suppose, is that instead of making dozen excuses why you can not realize your dreams, think about this story, just hold to your dream and never give up.