Aaron Paul and Lea Michele are among the many stars who were discouraged early on in their careers.

Aaron Paul is calling out his high school counselor who discouraged him from following his acting aspirations. In an Off Camera interview with Sam Jones, the Breaking Bad star describes how he developed a passion for acting as he grew up in a small town in Idaho. His parents were impressed and proud of his emerging talent. So in high school he negotiated a deal with them. He asked, “If I graduate high school early, would you be okay with me moving to LA [to pursue acting]?” They agreed.

Paul made good on his end, and at the age of 17 he was indeed going to relocate to Hollywood. But this unconventional move was met with a lot of negativity from both kids and adults from his school. Specifically, he names his counselor, Mrs. Moyer, as a person who went out of her way to discourage him. Paul recalls her saying, “You need to have a plan B.” He continues, “And I remember actually when I was leaving, she gave me this whole thing, she called my dream a ‘pipe dream.’ It kind of really let me down.” When his mom noticed her son appeared deflated, and she heard about the disheartening conversation, she marched into the counselor’s office to confront her: “How dare you say this to my kid!” 

Paul moved to Los Angeles in 1996, and accepted whatever work he could get. He was an enthusiastic contestant on The Price is Right, was cast in several commercials, music videos, and small television parts like playing a frat boy in Melrose Place. It was 2008 when he began playing Jesse Pinkman on the AMC series Breaking Bad–a role which earned him Primetime Emmy Awards for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series three separate years.

Actress and singer Lea Michele was most certainly encouraged to be a performer early in life. After all, she started acting professionally in Broadway productions when she was a child. But while in her teens, she aspired to branch out into television and movies. In this Hollywood Reporter interview, she recalls how several people were telling her she wasn’t pretty enough and would need to change her appearance to be considered for screen roles. One such person was her manager who told her she needed to get a nose job. “She’s no longer my manager for many reasons. But I just said ‘no,’ and I really just felt that growing up and loving women like Barbara Streisand, I just decided not to.”

She attributes the decision to forgo a nose job as a defining moment in her career as well as her personal development. It instilled within her a greater sense of purpose and determination. She said, “It was really I think the moment that changed my career, and created a mindset in me which just was that I really should just believe in myself, and listen to myself, and that my uniqueness is what’s going to help me to succeed and get me to all the places I dream of going to.”

Michele would go on to play the role of Rachel Berry on the Fox series Glee which earned her much critical praise.

Other actors who were discouraged when starting out in Hollywood include Reese Witherspoon who was told she was “not tall enough, not pretty enough, and not smart enough,” and Meryl Streep who was told she wasn’t pretty enough to be in King Kong.

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