Christopher Wiehl – Actor

Have a Discipline of Daily Action

I was born and raised in a small town, in eastern Washington state, called Yakima. My Mom and Dad met while in college at the University of Washington where my Mom was a foreign exchange student from Denmark. My Dad went to law school and joined the FBI. He had interesting assignments, such as the Kennedy assassination and the Mississippi racial riots.

When I was in high school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I liked being in front of people and entertaining. I took a drama class and I loved it. I a was theater and drama major and later became an actor.

One year, I won the ABC Daytime Show talent search. The lineup was All My Children, One Life to Live, General Hospital and Loving. I got an agent in New York in 1993 stayed there for a year auditioning. In 1994 I moved to Los Angeles and worked in film and television for 20 years. I’ve been in Los Angeles ever since. I’ve acted in small parts in television shows, have been a regular on ten television series and have guest starred on 30 different shows. Examples are CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Jericho and Private Practice.

Seven years ago, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was a time in my life when I was becoming a new Dad and in a challenging marriage. Life for me wasn’t going great for a while. I was at a low point when my marriage eventually ended.

My life was a train wreck in several spots. My acting career had stagnated. I had a brain tumor, and my marriage was a disaster except for my son. I didn’t expect to meet and marry my new wife, but she woke me up to a better life.

What made you decide to finally realize your lifelong dream?

My lifelong dream is to be an actor, filmmaker and director. Working in the entertainment business and acting is my favorite. That’s what gets me up in the morning and gets me going. I like the creative process.

Another dream I have is writing my book.

I have a lot of life left. I can’t shut down. I have to get up and keep fighting. I had a spiritual awakening when I was 43. There are a lot of things I still need to do. I now need to apply what I did in my 20’s toward writing my book. I have to do something every day toward my dream.

Starting is the hardest. Whatever the dream is, it’s usually big. If you ask, How am I going to get to the end of it? It may seem to hard. First you have to start.

If you’re over 40, you get set in your ways and think you can’t do anything. You are still young enough and you have wisdom that most younger people don’t have. You may bleed a little bit, from the battle scars, but you have a lot more to offer than when you were younger.

What were the specific obstacles that you faced?

Getting back into acting and writing was an obstacle. I had brain surgery and nearly died. I had to learn how to walk again. I am getting back to knowing if I can do it. People are always willing to say what you can’t do and doubt what you can do. If you listen to that negative talk enough, you will believe them. If you do something small every day, it will build your confidence.

You may fail a lot. I fail all the time. Some things are not obstacles but are challenges. In acting, I got a lot of jobs and I’ve lost a lot of jobs.

Fulfilling your dream is not always easy or attainable. It’s learning how to go through, around, over and under those obstacles…however the obstacles are presented. We have to “out think” the obstacle.

You have to start the process and be prepared to fail. You have to fail. . . you will fail and fail and fail. If it’s a high, lofty dream, it will be that much sweeter once you achieve it.

What helped you get through them?

I have a good family. My family has been very supportive. I am always keeping my eye on the prize. I try not to get too emotional and try to remain positive. Optimism is a strong tool. I use positive visualization, by seeing a positive outcome, using positive energy.

You have to see yourself succeeding. Some people have had years of failure in order to reach to success. Successful people who are older know that they have to be positive.

Were there people that tried to discourage you?  

In the entertainment business people discourage you all the time. Producers, directors and sometimes other actors tell you that you can’t do something. I choose not to make it personal. I chose this profession, yet it’s a difficult profession. I work to show them they are wrong and then they will hire me.

If you are trying to rise and do your dream, you have to be bigger than your critics. You will run into people who will not believe you can do your dream. Don’t focus on the people who criticize you. Taking criticism personally, holding grudges, making a list of people who wronged you, is a waste of time and energy.

How did you feel when you finally accomplished your lifelong dream?

I don’t know that I’ve accomplished it. I’m on my way to accomplishing one of them. For me, when I was on the shows, I don’t think I ever “arrived.” It’s a way for me to continue to have dreams and continue to get better.

I think dreams are always changing and movable. They are dynamic. There are certain days I celebrate the victories and that feels good. I don’t know that I have locked in my dream and I attained it.

What advice would you give to others that are contemplating finally living their dream?

The biggest thing is, if you’re over 40, you may think your dream is too big, too hard. Break it up. What can I do to make your steps smaller? Think: What can I do today? What can I do tomorrow? Make little steps to accomplish your big dreams and goals.

Eventually, what may have been an insurmountable dream, you can accomplish it in three or four years.

Stay positive. Use positive visualization. If you don’t believe you can do it, there isn’t anyone else who will believe you can.

Believe in yourself. Start small. Build. If you have a dream, don’t think about how you can get it done right away. It’s a discipline of daily action. Every day, do something.

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