I have to admire the “you can do anything” mentality that I see many young adults taking to heart. It’s true. Hustle, work hard, and the payoff will come. It may not be easy but most things worth having rarely are.
Maybe I lived in a bubble at that age but I’m not sure I subscribed to those beliefs at that time. They didn’t seem meant for me. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I applied to one school, got accepted, and off I went to find my path in life. Don’t get me wrong, I loved everything about my experience at Michigan State University. I would go again if I had to do it over again but I wonder how my life would have been different if I had had the courage to dream big and take risks during my late teens and early twenties.
I landed a job as a lobbyist for the American Cancer Society and worked there for almost 20 years. It was a very rewarding job and I believed, and still do, in the cause. I liked my job but I didn’t always love it. I had a lot of achievements that I am proud of and are now a part of history. Pretty cool but I’m not so sure it was the best fit for me long term.
When I got married two years ago, my step son, Jake, was finishing up his junior year of high school and was busy studying for the ACT and deciding where he wanted to apply to college. By the time he graduated the following year he had chosen Indiana University and intended to apply for the business school. He was all set to head to freshman orientation that summer when he divulged that he wasn’t passionate about business school and didn’t see himself at IU. Instead, he sought his dream of becoming a professional actor.
This dream was a surprise to many. While Jake had been in a few small movies that were filmed in Michigan during high school, it wasn’t something that he had been very vocal about. I, personally, had no idea this was something even on his radar. But, this goal wasn’t something he thought of on a whim. He had been doing research for months, keeping a journal, and even writing a screenplay, unbeknownst to his family.
I can tell you that the weeks following his news brought many sleepless nights to his father. It’s not what his parents would have chosen for him but, realizing how serious and passionate he was, they decided to get behind him. His whole family did.
With a seemingly fearless demeanor, Jake moved to LA a little over a year ago at the age of 18. He started his adulthood living on his own in a modest, yet secure, studio apartment in Hollywood, nearly 2,300 miles from his family and friends. In less than 6 months he found a manager and agent and had numerous auditions. He is currently taking acting classes and working toward the requirements to apply to a film school. He’s booked a few jobs so far but I have no doubt that, with his determination, that there are many more to come.
His trips back home have been good for him to relax and catch up with family and friends but he is always eager to get back. He doesn’t want miss any opportunities. My husband and I have even helped him film a few digital auditions during his visits.
Elder Island was one of the movies he filmed before he moved. It recently premiered at the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak, Michigan. Jake flew home for the event and I had the honor of attending with our family to support him in this great accomplishment.
I give Jake so much credit for knowing what he wants, having the guts to put himself out there, and putting his nose to the grind. Acting is not only a passion of his but it truly seems to come naturally to him and he is totally in his element when performing. To be so comfortable in your own skin is a gift in itself.
If you have the pleasure of meeting Mr. Jake Rotger someday, I’m sure that you will find him to be, like I do, kind, compassionate, and charismatic. He has surrounded himself with good people and has the support of his family which, coupled with his drive, is certain to result in much success and happiness.
Let Jake be an inspiration to you to pursue your goals, do what you love, and take chances.
Follow Jake on Instagram at @jake.rotger.