Jack Black Thanks the Teacher Who Inspired His Acting Career

Written by Casting Frontier, March 8th, 2015

When you think of Jack Black, what do you immediately think of? His enormous zeal for life? Are you awestruck that he’s one of the few who found a way to succeed as an adult by basically always remaining a kid? Yes, he is a Golden Globe-nominated actor, a producer, comedian, and singer; but, he’s also a poster child for the word passion, and weaves it into all he does in his career.

But things weren’t always looking so great for Jack. His parents had divorced when he was ten, and his dog died of parvovirus soon afterwards. During his middle school years he was enrolled in an alternative school specifically designed for struggling students who were falling into destructive life habits. Indeed, when he entered into Debbie Devine’s drama class, he appeared to be somewhat of a misanthrope. But much to her surprise, he kept returning to her class for inspiration and a blossoming appreciation for drama and improv. Devine’s zest for the material revived Black’s spirits, and ultimately profoundly transformed the direction of his life.

“I came to you at a very dark time in my youth…and I came to your class and I was inspired. It was the first time that I had actually enjoyed going to school and learning,” Jack told his beloved teacher. He says he remembers feeling “intense joy” while in her drama class.

At the age of 13, Black acted in a TV commercial for the video game Pitfall!. Then his acting career kicked off with roles in primetime TV shows like The X-Files, and Northern Exposure. From there, he landed small roles in films including The Cable Guy, and I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. His breakout performance was playing a wild record store employee in High Fidelity. Soon afterwards he landed leading parts in films like Shallow Hal, School of Rock, and Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny.

Every actor has a unique story about what or whom ignited their passion for the craft of acting. Did you have an extraordinary teacher that turned you onto the endless possibilities of acting? Please share your testimonial with The First 100 Stories and make a difference!

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