Actors Who Started Out as Models

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With the increasingly competitive nature of the acting business, actors are finding that honing multiple talents is highly encouraged to get noticed. Some actors add singing and dancing to their repertoire; others delve into behind-the-scenes skill sets such as writing, producing, or directing; and some enter the industry doors through seizing their exceptionally good looks through modeling. After all, acting is a highly visual form of art, so getting your image out there is a great way to gain attention within the industry–and hopefully open even more doors!

Some actor-models start small–that is to say, at a very young age. For instance, Brooke Shields’ modeling career started when she was just eleven months old promoting Ivory soap, but she didn’t take the media by storm until playing a child prostitute at the age of twelve in Pretty Baby, and two years later appearing in controversial ads for Calvin Klein jeans which catapulted her career. Hayden Panettiere likewise started her modeling career at eleven months promoting Playskool toys. Raven-Symone Pearman modeled for Ford Models at the whopping age of two and appeared in ads for Ritz crackers and Jell-O brands before being cast in The Cosby Show at the age of three. Corbin Bleu started out in TV commercials when he was just two, and then at the ripe old age of four he became a Ford Model as well, appearing in print ads for several stores like Target and Toys R Us. And of course Lindsay Lohan worked as a fashion model with Ford Models as early as three years old.

And then there are the enviable actor-models who actually experience what so many aspiring performers dream about: they are approached on the street by talent agents. Channing Tatum was discovered by a talent scout in Miami which lead to print modeling; he gradually worked his way to traveling the globe to promote brands such as Armani and Dolce & Gabbana. Ashton Kutcher was living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa when he was discovered by a talent scout. He was so well received as a model that he competed for the title of Male Model of the Year in 1997 only to come in second place to Josh Duhamel. Similarly, Evangeline Lilly was spotted by a Ford Modeling agent when she was walking the streets of British Columbia. Although the agent gave her his business card, Lilly was hesitant to call, so waited six months before she reached out which lead to several commercials and non-speaking roles in television shows. And 16-year-old Cameron Diaz was approached by a fashion photographer while at a Hollywood party which lead to a contract with Elite and her working around the world for companies like Levi’s and Coca-Cola.

Then there are the actor-models who wait till they’ve come of age before they find modeling. Robert Pattinson’s mother worked for a modeling agency, and he ended up with a  four-year modeling career between the ages of twelve and 16. It’s been said his modeling days faded as he started to appear more masculine. And before Brad Pitt became an A-list actor, he worked odd jobs and modeled Levi blue jeans to pay the bills. James Marsden was a top model for Versace before his action role in the X-Men movies and co-starring in The Notebook. The list of actors who started in modeling is long: Djimon Hounsou, Kirsten Dunst, Leighton Meester, Jason Lewis, Katherine Heigl, Charlize Theron, Ian Somerhalder, Chad Michael Murray….Do you see your name being added to this list?

Keep in mind, sometimes modeling aspirations don’t always turn out so well. For instance, Jennifer Lawrence dabbled in modeling before she became an Oscar-winning actress. She once explained to Conan O’ Brien why her modeling days were unsuccessful. “I did stuff for Abercrombie & Fitch, but you’d never know because non of my pictures ever got released,” she admitted. When the group of models involved in the shoot were instructed to play football, Lawrence took it as an athletic challenge. “I realized that they were model footballing and I was really playing football,” she candidly shared. Fortunately, she used her competitive instincts to push forward with her acting abilities. Similarly, Angelina Jolie’s early modeling experiences never took root although her mother encouraged high-school-aged Jolie to get out there and try. Certainly this disappointment didn’t stop Jolie either. The moral of the story is: Take risks and get yourself out there!

Do people tell you that you should be a model? It very well might be worth a try!

Comedy is A Serious Craft! (Part One)

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Are you funny? Can you be funny? Can you be cast on a sitcom?

Do you have acting training, comedic instincts and what it takes to create a character, follow the sitcom formula and make casting directors, producers, directors and audiences laugh and love you? Not everybody can. Why? Because this thing called comedy is a lot harder than it looks.

Sitcom acting—being funny—is, well, a serious craft. The world of sitcoms comes with its own set of rules, its own rhythm, its own pace. Guess whose job it is to grasp this very specific format. That’s right. Yours!

This comedic formula has been passed down from generation to generation, and it’s up to the actor, to not only be able to recognize this formula, but also to embrace it and follow it…to the LETTER. Then, you have to make it funny! Sitcom acting requires you to follow a very specific technique. It requires you to be energetic, articulate and to commit to the character, the dialogue, the jokes and the interaction with other characters.

Are you scared yet? Don’t worry. If you are disciplined and if you practice, practice, practice, you can work in this incredibly rewarding industry.

The first step to becoming a successful sitcom actor is having an innate ability to act and the training to develop that talent. As an acting coach, I cannot teach someone to act if they are not born with the talent to act. No acting coach can. I call this innate ability the Acting Gene. And, yes, I know it’s not “technically” a gene (but I’m sure they’ll discover it soon). Rather, it’s your inborn, intuitive ability to act or to pretend. A good acting coach can help you tap into this gene, discover (and uncover) your gift and teach you techniques that will help you access your emotions and your imagination.

The second step to becoming a successful sitcom actor is having an innate ability to be funny. Do you have a sense of humor about yourself? Do you have a sense of humor about others? Can you find the funny in the trials and tribulations of your everyday life?

To the left of the Acting Gene is the Funny Gene (yeah, another made-up word).  If you have the Funny Gene, no matter how developed it is, I can teach you to be a sitcom actor. It’s like any other skill. You need to have a physical gift to play basketball, a good ear to play the violin, a keen mind to be a mathematician, or a green thumb to be a gardener. Like any craft, it won’t be easy. But once you learn rules of comedy, and get a character that suits you best, you’ll have fun and get many well-deserved laughs in reruns!


Whether you’re auditioning for a co-star or a series regular on a half hour comedy, sitcom guru and acting coach Scott Sedita will teach you The Sedita Method of sitcom acting, which comes with it’s own terminology, coined phrases and unique glossary.

Scott’s internationally best-selling book, “The Eight Characters of Comedy. A Guide to Sitcom Acting & Writing, 2nd Edition” has sold over 100,000 copies and has become a “bible” to Hollywood comedy writers, directors, producers, and actors; and is used as a textbook in over 100 colleges and universities. Find Scott and his staff of professional actors, teachers and coaches at

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My Truth Is Different Than Your Truth

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There is a phrase that I love… “The Precision of Pain, the Blurriness of Joy.” This phrase hits on a universal truth. When we are joyous (our natural state), all seems well and flowing.

The flow stops with the awareness of pain. It is often challenging to do anything without healing what is causing the pain. School is in session.

As actors, we can use this as our gateway drug into the character. Our actor’s instrument, if sensitive enough and trained correctly, responds to a false moment as if it were pain. We are out of the flow of truth. This is our unconscious letting us know that we have encountered a locked door to the mansion of the character, that when opened – will reveal a whole other wing that we may not have even knew existed. Using a different intention, a different tactic, playing opposites, or building in a stronger backstory are various ways to go through the problem without skirting the opportunity.

As in all areas of our life, if a problem presents itself and we choose to ignore it, the lesson will continue getting louder and louder, more and more painful. We might as well deal with the problem in it’s infancy (and before it buys a gun!).

A brilliant performance is simply the accumulation of many small brilliant moments. If one moment is false or faked, the audience loses trust in us. As one of my Gurus, Judge Judy, always says “if you lie to me once, I can’t believe anything that you say.”

The truth isn’t casual or easy, but it is interesting. We don’t get truth from our journalists, politicians or religions. The actor’s job is to bring the truth to the table. We make the imaginary true, which is not the same as lying. Not the same at all. Lying is just saying words, acting is living truthfully in imaginary circumstances as if it were happening to you for the first time in the given moment (and that is much easier said than done).

My truth is different than your truth. I believe in God and find evidence of his existence everywhere. Someone else is an Atheist and finds evidence of his non-existence everywhere. Who has a stronger grip on the truth? The reason that we love certain actors is that their sense of truth aligns with ours and we REALLY believe them. Actors stock-in-trade is truth, it is our everything.

The world needs truth now, more than ever. Please share yours.


Jeffery Marcus has worked as an actor on television series’, in features films, on Broadway and regional theaters. He has taught acting classes and coached in Los Angeles for over 25 years, and also does media coaching for celebrities and executives. Visit him at

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Leonardo DiCaprio’s ‘The Revenant’ Shoot Described as ‘A Living Hell’

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Are there any actors who have managed to avoid off-screen horror stories during shoots from time to time? If so, consider yourself lucky! With all personalities and relationships among the cast and crew members, and the wide array of technical aspects to filmmaking, the possibilities of what can go wrong is virtually endless. In the case of the film The Revenant which is still in production, some crew members are describing it as the worst shoot they’ve ever been on by far, and one person even called the shoot “a living hell.”

Ironically, The Revenant is an epic survival story. It’s a western thriller based on the actual experiences of a fur trapper named Hugh Glass in the early 19th century played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and Mad Max Tom Hardy co-stars. Birdman director Alejandro G. Inarritu co-wrote the script and is directing the ambitious production. So what has been going so terribly wrong?

First of all, principal photography commenced in October 2014 and Inarritu anticipated it would end in about April or May; but, now it’s looking like it will wrap in August. This has taken the budget from $95 million to an anticipated $135 million or more.

The film is being shot only with natural light. Inarritu spoke about the difficult time constraints this arrangement creates, explaining that “shooting in such remote far-away locations … by the time we arrive and have to return, we have already spent 40-percent of the day.”

The storyline is set in extremely harsh, snowy conditions, and was originally going to be shot in Canada. But when Canada’s weather was not obliging, the crew was forced to find bitter cold much further south; that is, on the tip of Argentina where penguins find the temperatures comfortable.

Then there are a number of specific incidents like a naked character who was to be dragged on the ground for several takes, and an actor who was immersed in freezing water with a faulty dry suit which lead to him needing medical care after the scene. And there were times when the actors would block out scenes, and then they’d end up shooting something different from what they had rehearsed. Some described the director as temperamental and indecisive.

Because so much had gone wrong, many people had been griping along the way. As a result, many either quit or were fired–including one of the film’s producers, Jim Skotchdopole who successfully worked with Inarritu on Birdman, but who was apparently banned from The Revenant set, and then was replaced. Skotchdopole in particular has received harsh criticism for not preparing or communicating properly; in one instance, he had the cast and crew fly via helicopter to a forest location, and once they arrived, the landscape had unusable lighting.

“If we ended up in greenscreen with coffee and everybody having a good time, everybody will be happy, but most likely the film would be a piece of s***. … When you see the film, you will see the scale of it. And you will say, ‘Wow.'” Inarritu told The Hollywood Reporter. He feels that the complaints about the shoot are exaggerated, and he stands behinds the decisions he’s made along the way.

The Revenant is scheduled to be released on December 25, 2015.

How does this shoot compare to your worst experiences on set? And all in all, in your experience, are hellish shoots worth the effort in the end?


What Audience Behavior Do You Find Most Annoying?

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Whether a performer is acting, doing comedy, singing, playing an instrument or dancing before a live audience, he or she hopes to get absorbed in the material and to some degree forget people are observing. But how can a performer focus well when an audience member is continually talking, checking texts, or hasn’t turned off the ringer on a cellphone?

Well, Broadway veteran Patti LuPone has had enough of rude audience behavior! During a recent evening performance in New York City, she was distracted by a member of the audience who was texting while the Tony Award-winning actress was attempting to sing her heart out. “We work hard on stage to create a world that is being totally destroyed by a few, rude, self-absorbed, and inconsiderate audience members who are controlled by their phones. They cannot put them down,” LuPone said in a statement to

So how did LuPone handle the situation? Remaining true to her character while playing the role of an artistic director, she keenly found an opportunity to make a dramatic statement. That is, at the part where she normally interacts with people who are sitting in the front row, the 66-year-old actress instead headed toward the woman who was holding the glowing LED screen. “I shook her hand with one hand and took her phone with the other. Took it. I didn’t grab. I thought, ‘Holy s*@#, that was easy,'” she said to the New York Daily News.

LuPone confessed, “I am so defeated by this issue that I seriously question whether I want to work on stage anymore. Now I’m putting battle gear on over my costume to marshall the audience as well as perform.” Indeed, this is not the first time the famous actress has confronted an audience member. In 2009, she stopped the show mid-song in the musical Gypsy. “Stop taking pictures right now! You heard the announcement. Who do you think you are?!” She demanded, and was met with enthusiastic claps from some in the audience.

There seems to be a steady stream of complaints from performers about inconsiderate behaviors originating from just one or two of those present who negatively impact the majority of viewers and the performers. During a particularly intimate and poignant scene in A Steady Rain, Hugh Jackman stopped mid-scene when a cell phone repeatedly rang; staying in character he told the offending person to answer his or her phone. In another instance, conservative writer Kevin Williams reacted to a woman’s speaking on her cell phone during a performance by taking it and chucking it across the New York theater and into the curtains. And earlier this month, just before the production started, a man in the audience tried to charge his phone using a fake on-stage electrical outlet at Broadway’s Hand to God. In turn, an announcement was made for the owner of the phone to come retrieve his phone. Now that’s a walk of shame! With the advent of modern technology, ushers are increasingly being put in the tricky position of policing paying customers over what would seem to be clearly unacceptable behavior for a theater setting.

So, in your experience, what has bothered you the most: Clapping or yelling out at inappropriate times, excessive coughing or talking, camera flashes, late entrances or early departures, someone shushing too loudly, or maybe seemingly endless crinkling of plastic packaging? And what do you think is the best way to handle these situations?

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Watch Henry Thomas’ Perfectly Improvised Audition for ‘E.T.’

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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was released over thirty years ago; it’s an enduring story about a lonely boy who makes close friends with an abandoned alien called “E.T.” The film’s concept was based on an imaginary companion that a then-teenage Steven Spielberg conceived of after his parents divorced. Spielberg once described this imaginary alien as “a friend who could be the brother I never had and a father that I didn’t feel I had anymore.” Years later, he sought to make a movie based on this concept.

Enter ten-year-old Henry Thomas who had just had his film debut playing the role of Harry in the 1981 Sissy Spacek film entitled Raggedy Man. Now as an adult, Thomas recalls the day this way: “I read a scene from some early version of the script, and then I was asked to do an improvisation. I think the gist of the improv was, ‘You found someone, and they’re going to take them away from you, and it’s your friend, and you really don’t want your friend to go away.’ So I started crying, and really going for it I guess.”

Thomas managed to hit it out of the ballpark, making everyone around, including Spielberg cry. “Okay kid, you got the job!” you can hear the famed director say. There lies the power of improvisation! It’s been reported that Thomas tapped into the memory of when his dog died for inspiration in the audition.

Continuing on with the movie shoot, spontaneity was so important to Spielberg that he didn’t storyboard most of the film, and he shot the movie in chronological order to give the child actors as real of an emotional experience as possible; he also tried to hide the puppeteers controlling the beloved character of E.T. to make the kids’ relationship with the alien seem as authentic as possible.

It all certainly seemed to pay off. The film is currently classified as number 50 on the highest-grossing films list; but when the list is adjusted for inflation, E.T. jumps to number six placing just after The Sound of Music.

Can you watch this clip without shedding a tear?

How Supportive Is Your Dad of Your Acting Career?

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Adam DeVine is a comedian, actor, voice actor, singer, writer, and producer. He both created and starred in the Comedy Central series Workaholics, and Adam DeVine’s House Party. You may recognize him as Bumper Allen in the Pitch Perfect musical films or as the voice of Pizza Steve in Cartoon Central’s Uncle Grandpa. He’s a talented go getter that would make pretty much any dad very proud–that is, except his own! His manly-man father struggles to accept the fact that his son’s career requires him to wear makeup.

Although there are certainly many dads out there who are passionate supporters of their sons’ and daughters’ acting careers, there are likewise countless fathers who discourage the theater arts with their notoriously unpredictable and unstable work conditions; instead, many dads prefer their children chose a career in something seemingly more stable. You know, jobs like writing contracts, accounting, engineering, maybe taking over the family business. But the thought of these kinds of jobs is enough to make many actors dance on the street with a tin cup!

Some Hollywood dads have been strong supporters of their children’s decision to pursue acting. Take, for example, Martin Sheen who bolstered the careers of his sons Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen; Kirk Douglas supporting Michael Douglas; Will Smith encouraging Jaden and Willow Smith; Donald Sutherland supporting Kiefer Sutherland. And director-producer Bruce Paltrow found a way to cast his daughter, Gwyneth, in her acting debut in a TV film he directed. But it doesn’t take a dad in the entertainment industry to support his son or daughter’s acting career. How supportive has your father been of your choice to pursue acting? Please share!

Watch below to see a dad who’s head-over-heals supportive of his son’s singing career.

Happy Father’s Day from Casting Frontier!

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Watch Tom Hanks Rehearsal Tape for ‘Forest Gump’

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In this footage of Tom Hanks rehearsing for his Oscar-winning role of Forrest Gump with co-star Robin Wright, you can hear him speaking without the characteristic Southern drawl we all now associate with his endearing character. That’s because when Hanks initially accepted the role, he was thinking of easing Forrest’s distinctive accent. Was this creative decision as powerful as the eventual choice to replace it with a heavy drawl?

Well, it was the director, Bob Zemeckis, who convinced Hanks to adopt the familiar twang as it was established in the novel from which the movie was adapted. But specifically, Hanks went on to pattern his character’s manner of speech to match the unique accent of the young actor who played Forest in his early years, Michael Conner Humphreys. As you can hear in this video clip, the adorable Humphreys sounds much like the Forrest we’ve come to know.

This illustrates the collaborative process it often requires for a character to evolve. Writer Winston Groom who authored the 1986 novel Forrest Gump, envisioned a Forrest with some “rough edges” and he pictured John Goodman playing the part. However, it was John Travolta who was offered the title role; but he passed on it. Although this video clip is described as an audition for Hanks, he never actually auditioned for the part. He had finished working on A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seattle, and Philadelphia and so was simply given the role. However, this clip is reportedly a screen test for Wright as well as Humphreys, Hanna R. Hall who portrayed the young Jenny, and Haley Joel Osment who played Forrest Gump, Jr..

Forrest Gump went on to win many accolades including Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Lead Role, Best Director, Best Visual Effects, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing.

Do you have a personal story of collaboration and evolution of a special character? Was it a positive and transformative experience as it was for Hanks and his co stars? Did it empower your art or advance your career? Or in retrospect do you wish you’d listened to your own instincts and ignored the input of others? Enquiring minds want to know!

Actors on the favorite roles they’ve played

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When considering the various aspects of acting, thespians find many different reasons to explain why they love their favorite roles. Here are a few examples of actors expounding on what made them feel so connected to their favorite performances.

Paul Dano has performed opposite Daniel Day-Lewis as Paul and Eli Sunday in There Will Be Blood, and has played the brutal carpenter John Tibeats in Academy Award-winning film 12 Years a Slave. But having recently finished playing Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson in the film Love and Mercy, Dano says that preparing for the movie was “the most fun research he’s ever done for an acting role.” He told the Wall Street Journal, “There’s probably nothing more fun to research than the Beach Boys, 1960’s Los Angeles. I’ll probably never find a better acting job. I did a lot, but it’s the music. Listening to the music, listening to the studio sessions. Even more important was learning to play the songs….Brian is his music.”

Alyson Stoner played Channing Tatum’s character’s little sister, Camille Gage, in the Step Up series, and is the voice of Isabella “Whatcha doin’?” Garcia-Shapiro in Phineas and Ferb. After considering the role she liked most, Stoner said, “I think my favorite role was playing Sarah Baker in ‘Cheaper by the Dozen 1.’ It was my first movie, and I worked with amazing professionals who had such strong work ethics that I immediately learned how to work in this industry.”

Scottish actor James McAvoy earned a Golden Globe Award nomination for his performance as Robby Turner in Atonement, was nominated for a Best Kiss MTV Movie Award while playing opposite Angelina Jolie in the action-thriller Wanted, and has played the telepathic superhero Professor X in the X-Men movies. That being said, a role that he loved playing was Mr. Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. “I got to play my favorite character in children’s literature, which I loved. You don’t get the chance to do that in other jobs,” he said.

Emma Watson once shared her gratitude for being able to play Hermione Granger by saying, “I could be one hundred years old and in my rocker, but I’ll still be very proud that I was part of the ‘Harry Potter’ films.” When asked which Harry Potter film was her favorite to work on, she answered, “I’ve enjoyed all of them in different ways. I think the first one was incredible, obviously, because everything was new, and everything being a novelty is very exciting. From an acting perspective, this last movie was amazing because I had such big parts, and it was really challenging and demanding. I did a lot of stunts and had a lot of very difficult scenes to do.”

Johnathon Schaech was cast by Tom Hanks as a a self-centered lead singer in the musical comedy drama That Thing You Do!. From that point on, Schaech landed a role as a leading man in Hush with Gweneth Paltrow and Jessica Lange, and has worked continuously since. As far as his favorite role, he once said, “People recognize me on the street for all kinds of different things that I’ve done. ‘That Thing You Do!’ remains to be my favorite film in which I played my favorite character. That role is the one that I’m most recognized for.”

What has been your favorite role to date, and why?

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Jim Carrey’s Speech: ‘You Can Fail at What You Don’t Want, So You Might as Well Take a Chance on Doing What You Love’

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If you are an actor whose parents much prefer you find a “real” job instead of pursuing acting; or if you find yourself second guessing the decision to follow your passion, wondering if it’s wiser to find a more conservative profession, then you might be interested in hearing Jim Carrey’s Commencement Address at the 2014 Maharishi University of Management. This video clip highlights portions of Carrey’s speech, where he warns the consciousness-seeking graduates that, “Your need for acceptance can make you invisible.” He therefore encourages them to “Risk being seen in all of your glory.”

Speaking from his personal life experiences, he says, “So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it. I’m saying that I am the proof that you can ask the universe for it. Please. And if it doesn’t happen for you right away, it’s only because the universe is so busy fulfilling my order.”

He briefly tells a story about his father who had natural comedic talent, but who didn’t believe that being a comedian was a career option. Having four children, he thus chose the more conservative career path as an accountant. But a 12-year-old Jim learned an important lesson when his father lost that “safe” job, and consequently everything seemed to fall apart for the family. They, in fact, lived out of a van for some time, and the family members pulled together as they persevered through the tough circumstances. By the time Jim was 15, he started working as a janitor to help the family survive, and he never completed high school. “I learned many great lessons from my father–not the least of which is that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

For Jim, that meant following his dreams of being a comedian despite his family’s lack of financial stability. His dad, adept with his own sense of humor, helped Jim create a stage act which gradually lead to Rodney Dangerfield taking notice of the budding star, and asking Jim to open his tour performances.

“As far as I can tell it’s just about letting the universe know what you want and working toward it while letting go of how it comes to pass,” Jim tells the graduates. “You are ready and able to do beautiful things in this world. And after you walk through those doors today, you will only ever have two choices: Love or fear. Choose love, and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart.”

To hear Carrey’s full, entertaining 26-minute speech, click here.