f at first you don't succeed, try and try again.
I How many young people have heard this expression from parents, teachers or coaches who want to help them reach for lofty goals?
For some, this type of encouragement is only a cliché; but then there are those who take it to heart and find an unwavering determination that really is
what leads to success.
For local thespian Jesse DeCoste, who aspires to make a living as a professional actor, it was a matter of setting his sights higher after each unsuccessful audition.
Last year, the 18-year-old applied to the National Theatre School of Canada, George Brown College in Toronto, and Julliard in New York City.
None of them accepted him.
Undeterred, he continued to work on his craft while taking general studies at UBC this past year, and then decided to head down to Seattle to audition for the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art - arguably one of the top theatre schools in the world.
The academy auditioned 4,000 aspiring actors from around the world for their three-year bachelor of arts program this year.
Of those, they accepted 28, and DeCoste, much to his surprise, was one of them.
"It was really out of the blue," he said. "I hadn't expected that, because coming out of high school, I'd made the rounds of three pretty prestigious schools, and I didn't get into any of them, so I wasn't expecting much."
This fall, the 18-year-old New Westminster student is off to the United Kingdom and couldn't be happier.
Since he was a little kid, he has been singing, dancing and acting.
"I grew up in the theatre, and it's my first love," he said.
Starting at the age of seven, DeCoste trained at the Kirkwood Academy of Performing Arts in New Westminster.
His teacher, Dolores Kirkwood, said he was a formidable student.
"He's a treasure for a teacher (to have)," she said, noting DeCoste often helped other students during rehearsals. "If somebody was slow to get something, he would take them in the other room to help them with their steps or help them with their songs. (He's) not just a 'self' person. - He's just a very intelligent worker at whatever he takes on, and I'm sure they've recognized that."
While getting accepted into the program was a feat in itself, finding a way to pay for it will be an entirely different challenge.
"When I got the call, I thought, 'OK, this is awesome,' but can I afford it?'" he said.
Tuition fees in England went up by 300 per cent in the last year, said DeCoste, and he is not eligible as a Canadian to apply for any of the program scholarships at the school.
Tuition will be $25,000 per year for three years, plus living expenses, and he estimates he will need between $120,000 and $130,000 for the full length of the program.
To pay his way, DeCoste has been working three jobs this summer - at Massey Theatre, the Port Moody Arts Centre and Landmark Cinemas in New Westminster - and has so far raised about $12,000 towards his tuition.
He is also waiting to see if he will be awarded a few Canadian scholarships for which he has already applied.
As well, he is planning to take out a student loan and has found a few sponsors (including his parents) who will fund him on a monthly basis for basic living expenses.
DeCoste said he has had to get creative to find other ways of raising the money to afford his "dream school," including setting up a blog through which people can learn about his goals and become sponsors.
So far, he has amassed about $900 in sponsorship pledges or one-time donations.
"It's odd. I've never been in this position before," he said. "I've never had to ask anybody for money before, and it almost feels like I shouldn't be asking for money to go live my dream off in London. The thing is, I'm working my hardest and there's nothing else I can do at the moment to make this possible."
Once he graduates from the London Academy, DeCoste said his plan is to get full-time work to support himself as an actor and simply continue doing what he loves, whether on stage or in front of a camera.
"I want to be able to tell the kind of stories that I want to tell," he said. "Live theatre is a great means by which to accomplish that, but I also love film, and obviously it pays the bills better, but we'll see."
For more information, or to support DeCoste, visit his blog at www.jessede coste.blogspot.com.