"Turn Your Passion Into Power" a Live Presentation by Michelle Zeitlin
Decisions, decisions: Students get inside scoop on making the right ones
Article by Alicia Doyle
Photos Anthony Plascencia
From the Ventura County Star
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. - When Caleb Mixson went to Hollywood three years ago with dreams of becoming a star, he soon discovered the importance of making the right decisions to make his vision real.
"I wasted so much time because I made the wrong decisions and I associated with the wrong people," said Caleb, a native of North Carolina who lives in Los Angeles. "I believed the wrong things instead of doing what I knew in my heart were the right choices. I just wanted the fast and easy way."
Mixson, who recently appeared on the season finale of "How to Get Away With Murder" on ABC, told his story Thursday to students at Simi Valley's Santa Susana High School, which emphasizes the performing arts as well as technology.
"I'm not that much older than you guys," he told the audience. "The biggest lesson I've learned in three years is to just make the right choices. If you know what's right and when you feel something in your gut — whether it's do this or don't — follow your gut."
Mixson's talk was part of a presentation titled "Turn Your Passion Into Power" by Michelle Zeitlin, chief executive officer of More Zap Productions & Management. She is also a producer, director and choreographer who has collaborated with specialists in the visual arts, animation, television, film, music recording and literary industries.
"How do I get from here to there? You have to build that bridge — it's literal and metaphoric; you need the right people in your life to get you from one place to another," Zeitlin told the students.
As an example, she pointed to Mixson, a client she met while he was working as an extra on the set of a music video.
"How do I get from high school to Broadway? How do I get from a high school in Simi Valley to Hollywood? How do I get my book published?" Zeitlin said. "There is no singular path."
Zeitlin, who donated her time Thursday, spoke about her experience in the industry while displaying a slideshow in the background with inspirational quotes, including one by Oscar Wilde: "No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist."
During her talk, Zeitlin pulled a small round rock from her pocket while showing an image in the background of rocks formed in the shape of a bridge.
"You all need to build a bridge," she said, "to build a path to success."
Sometimes, she noted, obstacles appear.
"We can make all the best-laid efforts for our path and then something happens," she said. "It's about getting back on that path so when things teeter a little bit, you can get back on that plan."
Ashley Arabian, 15, said the assembly inspired her to continue pursuing her dream to become a writer, director and producer.
"Start strong," the sophomore said. "It's really important to know what you want and keep going. Don't stop, no matter what."
Katie Guthrie, who aspires to become a professional actress, learned the importance of "letting yourself shine."
"You should not hide yourself to make other people feel comfortable," the 17-year-old said. "And don't wait around for other people to make it happen for you. You have to build that bridge yourself."
Thursday's assembly gave students a sense of direction, said Karen Giles, dance program director at Santa Susana High.
"The design of this was to get them to start thinking that it doesn't end here," Giles said. "This is just the beginning."
- Article from the Ventura County Star