The question that's most asked of me about my place of work is, 'do you meet heaps of famous actors there??'. Well, the answer to this is, no, not really. No one at work is on the lookout for famous people. And when they do turn up, as they invariably do from time to time, there's never anything to be overawed about. Mel Gibson came in once, surrounded by his minders, looking like the local plumber dressed in a nice shirt and tatty jeans. Many of our graduates who are now stalwarts, even celebrities, in the local or international scene are often seen strolling around. Sometimes they're doing workshops or are teaching a course, or giving a guest lecture. It's always nice to say hi to these celebrities and to anyone else for that matter. They're usually really cool people. I enjoy the people in the building, no matter who they are. This is what makes it a special job, and why I've lasted into my 15th year at the institution.
I even see Cold Chisel's Don Walker come into the building on Wednesday afternoons with his coffee and newspaper, sitting himself in the foyer cafe, probably waiting to pick up his daughter who may be involved in some work experience activity or open program course. And come to think of it, every time I've casually seen Don Walker he's always having a coffee or reading a newspaper! Now Don is someone with whom I'm truly awed with, one of my musical heroes, yet he's now familiar to the point that I ignore him as I walk past him in that open foyer. There's no need to talk to him. I've met him a couple of times previously; he's a nice man. (He even signed his book for me! :)
Though when in comes to fame, a handful of our graduates do become major international stars. The most recent one is Sam Worthington. He started his acting degree in the same year I started the job, in 1996. I didn't see him for a few years after he graduated and I wondered what became of him. I saw him in Tandy in the Broadway Shopping Centre in January 2003, where I was choosing a printer for myself. He's since come into work a couple of times, and chatted with him there, although I haven't seen him since he hit the big time.
I'm very glad for Sam. I always liked him. He seemed roguish and abrasive, but he was a good guy, straight-up and honest in his interactions. He had dreadlocks when he started the course, so that he cut more of a "rougher" Byron Bay character, than say, the more affected gentilities of a John Butler. I liked his acting too, it was honest and straight-up, and it appealed to me. Apparently he was a brickie before he tried his hand at acting. I can relate to that as my dad was a brickie when I was growing up, so I can understand that particular sensibility. Sam hated paying his library fines though, miniscule as they were back then (5c per day per book). He probably had no money. Now he's rolling in it.
I suppose the only aspect of encountering fame that I find awkward is the money side of things. Money, of course, the subject of it, being a major bugbear of mine. But, anyway, I'd like to ask Sam what's it like to be sitting on 10 million bucks?? To me, and most people quite frankly, that is a dream that will remain unrealised.
So good luck to Sam, he deserves it. He's a good bloke. And like everything, money and fame are temporary, fleeting. We're only avatars, after all, who land into this dimension of swooping bodies that inevitably fade and pass into countless circles of awarenesses, and existences.