November 25, 2013

Success Stories: David Tennant's Determination to Become The Doctor

[CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

If you're British, a fan of Doctor Who, or simply went on Twitter this weekend, you probably know Saturday was the 50th anniversary of the long-running British television show Doctor Who and that the BBC had a special show in honor of the event that was broadcast simultaneously all over the world. Though he may be relatively unknown to the general public here in America (though you probably at least know him from Harry Potter), David Tennant is one of the most highly regarded actors the world over as a result of his work as the enigmatic Doctor on this influential show. He is also a fantastic example of what talent, hard work, passion, a bit of luck, and some fierce determination can lead to and that is why he's our feature today.

David Tennant may be well-known today for his portrayal of The Doctor, but as a boy he was actually inspired to act because of his passion for the show. As a young child he watched the show and saw Tom Baker as the title character and became obsessed. It was then he decided he wanted to be an actor and he told friends and family that he was going to be The Doctor someday [1]. Of course, they believed he would someday grow out of these childhood fantasies and he explained in an interview that "Everyone was persistent in the belief I would 'grow out of it, but not me. I believed this was going to be a life-long thing. When I was old enough I was convinced that I was going to play the part of The Doctor on TV. I was absolutely convinced [1]." He was still just as convinced as a young teen and even wrote about it in his high school English essays [2].
At seventeen, he joined the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. After his graduation though his parents recommended he get a teaching diploma to have another option in case acting did not work out, but he was not interested [2]. Years later, Tennant was working on a BBC mini-series Casanova with Julie Gardner and Russel T. Davies, the team who would soon be behind the relaunch of Doctor Who [3]. Of course, when he heard about this he took matters into his own hands. "I was actually quite brazenly trying to get a guest spot on one of the episodes," he explained in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. Yet as fans of the show know, Christopher Eccleston who played the first Doctor in the new series only chose to stay with the show for one year. So, before the new episode the crew had their eye on a replacement. "I got shown some episodes by Russell and Julie in what I thought was just a social night, at the end of which they said, 'And we’re also looking for someone to do it for year two' [3]." Tennant went on, of course, to not only fulfill his childhood dreams but to become a British cultural icon. He was even voted by Doctor Who fans around the world as the best incarnation of The Doctor, a feat probably made possible by his lifelong passion for the show itself.

So, what are you passionate about and determined, like Tennant, to make happen no matter what obstacles stand in your way?

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