If after many tries you don’t succeed, just keep trying
Come on – how many of us are really “living the dream”? How many of us are free of the ache to be something else or achieve something more? And how many of us have not been recently shaken from the illusion of having all the time in the world to give that a shot?
For that minority currently achieving all of their life’s goals, congratulations! We wish you continued success with your self-actualization. You may stop reading.
But for those of us wondering if that crazy idea might not be so crazy after all, it’s not. There are ways to make it real. As proof, we look at two grads doing just that. Meet Amy Eversley (Personal Fitness Trainer ’10), a.k.a. AJ Eversley, an emerging author of young adult dystopian fiction, and Klarc Wilson (Radio and Television – TV ’16), a Vancouver-based actor.
From their stories, we’ve pieced together a guide to getting past the fear, inertia, self-doubt and whatever else stands between us and our goals, or – and this may be just as fulfilling – us and the pursuit of them.
Use time wisely
After growing up as an avid reader and writer of short stories (“nothing I would ever want anyone to read”), Eversley returned to writing seriously in the mid-2010s. Her husband got a job involving shift work that took him away weekends and evenings, and she began using the free time to write the first scene of Watcher, the first book of her first trilogy.
“All of a sudden I had three full notebooks and I looked at my husband and said, ‘I wrote a book.’”
"I looked at my husband and said, ‘I wrote a book.’”
Ever since, she’s been able to produce a draft of a novel in about six weeks. (Fun fact: her knowledge of anatomy and body mechanics from her NAIT education influence the fight sequences throughout her novels.)
Similarly, Wilson manages his time so that he can work a steady, non-acting job in the afternoons and evenings and reserve mornings for auditions, when he says most of them happen. So far, the approach has landed him roles on more than half-a-dozen TV shows, including The Flash and Van Helsing. He hopes it will soon see him devote himself to the profession full time.
Know that success (probably) won’t happen overnight
Since landing his first role in 2018, Wilson’s advice for others is rooted in experience: “be prepared to not have it happen right away. Be prepared to have to put in the work.”
Also, he might say, never stop hustling. “I go out for a lot of stuff,” he says. When he couldn’t audition in person due to the industry shutdown during the pandemic, he responded to a call put out over social media by U.S. casting directors looking for would-be stars to submit short monologues. Out of some 5,000 submissions, Wilson was selected among the top 50. What will come of it? Relationship building at least, he hopes.
“Just the fact that I was recognized was a big honour.”
Recognition took time for Eversley, too. She had success with Watcher, which she’d self-published at the time, garnering positive reviews among readers and even managing to get it into swag bags for celebrities at the 2018 Teen Choice Awards. All that validation, however, wasn’t enough to quickly snag a publisher to handle her second series.
“I got 64 nos,” says Eversley, “and one yes. Which is all I really needed.”
Learn to take feedback
Whether you want to be an actor, author, artisanal baker, go back to school, whatever, be coachable. Wilson learned that from his hockey career, which included six seasons in the Western Hockey League and two with the NAIT Ooks.
“What hockey taught me was being able to take constructive criticism,” he says. “With acting, it's very similar.” If a casting director critiques your audition, consider it advice for next time.
For authors, there are reviews. Despite high ratings on platforms such as goodreads.com, “I’ve had to get a thick skin,” says Eversley.
She uses the more thoughtful comments to improve her writing. At the same time, however, she won’t compromise her vision. An early editor, for example, suggested turning her series into a mystery for an older audience.
“Maybe it could have been a bigger success that way,” she says, “but that wasn’t the way I was choosing to write.”
Identify your supports
One thing is certain: Things will go wrong.
“There's been times when I felt like I was so ready [for an audition] and the next thing you know, I forget a line or something like that,” says Wilson. After, “I would get to my car and be so upset because I worked so hard. I knew the script and I was prepared.”
Sitting there at the wheel, not going anywhere, he’s thought, “This was my only chance.”
One thing is certain: Things will go wrong.
Family helps snap him out of that. Klarc will go to his uncle, Garfield Wilson, a better-established actor, for commiseration and advice. He’ll also open up to his fiancé. “She always helps me see the light of day.”
“Having a good support system in your corner is a big thing.”
Believe in yourself
That others believe in him has helped Wilson believe in himself. He has his eye on Netflix, which has more eyes on it than ever, needs more new talent than ever, and is spending more on content production than ever: more than $17 billion USD in 2020 alone. And that’s just one network.
Once he’s through one audition, Wilson just looks to the next. “No matter what, I'm going to keep going forward; eventually the right role for me will come. I truly believe and have faith that it's just a matter of time before I get that career-changing opportunity.”
Eversley has gone through her writing career with a similar “anything can happen” attitude. “My nature, in general, is just as a positive person,” she says.
And it did happen. Once she signed on with her publisher, Aelurus Publishing, it re-released her self-published series early in 2020. Her second series, EverMarked, follows in late July with the first of its four books, and the remaining three to come before year’s end.
“I hope it grows my name as an author,” she says.
That is, Eversley is still reaching for loftier goals. She's back writing, branching out into fantasy as well as adult sci-fi. And, like Wilson, she’s eyeing TV. Is it a long shot? Eversley doesn’t think so. Her books are being published and her characters are coming to life in the minds of readers around the world. There’s no reason to think they couldn’t do the same one day on screen.
“You never know,” she says.