Reinventing Yourself with Tom Welling as a Blueprint
Tom Welling is one of my favorite male celebs. He is funny, smart and charming – all wrapped up into one. Best known for his role as Clark Kent on the CW’s Smallville, this former Abercrombie and Fitch model turned actor became an instant hit with audiences worldwide when he decided to take on the role of a teen-version of Superman.
Now in his late 30’s and his Metropolis days behind him, Tom Welling is undergoing a bit of a personal reinvention, attempting to move beyond the red silk cape and create a pathway to a new future.
But can he really reinvent himself after Superman?
Like most folks, I started following Tom Welling when I got hooked on Smallville back in the early 2000’s. What impressed me most about this star was his uncanny ability to pull you into his character as Clark. That kind of talent doesn’t occur through mere happenstance and requires an actor to become totally immersed into their respective role.
During the lifespan of the 10 season series, Smallville and Wellingpicked up a number of impressive accolades, including a few Emmys and some Teen Choice Awards along the way. And the show itself had a major hand in boosting the careers of several actors, including Alan Ritchson (Aquaman), Justin Hartley, (Arrow) and Kristin Kreuk (Lana).
Many people do not know this but Welling actually turned down the part two times prior. It was only after he read the script and absorbed the essence of the story-line that he decided to audition.
Today, the name Tom Welling has become pretty much synonymous with Smallville … so much so that some think the star has become typecast.
That line of chatter however, isn’t stopping Welling from reinventing himself.
Reinvention of Welling in the here and now
Recently, I had the opportunity to rent the movie Parkland, where Welling plays the part of U.S. Secret Service agent, Roy Kellerman.
For those who may be unaware, Parkland is an independent film that tells the backstory of the historical events that unfolded at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 – the date President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Kellerman was Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Presidential detail.
In this flick, you get to see Welling play a role that is far from supernatural. In fact, he is all too human. What’s more, you will also get to experience a moving and at times haunting perspective of what it must have been like at the Parkland Emergency room on that fateful day back in the fall of 1963.
And it is through this perspective we see the reinvention of Tom Welling.
From the very moment he appears in the movie, Welling instantly pulls you into his character. We see him display powerful emotions, primarily confusion, anger and helplessness. This kind of role is the complete opposite of how we have grown accustomed to seeing him in the past.
In “Parkland”, he makes the transformation from superhero to superhuman, brilliantly.
And it is important to note that Welling’s reinvention is happening against the backdrop of some personal drama. In the fall of 2013, word came out that he was divorcing Jamie Welling. The two had been married since 2002.
While the star has offered no public comment about the split (he’s always been notoriously private), we all know that any type of relational collapse can bring with it a certain amount of stress.
My sense is that there is something to be gained from observing Tom Welling during this period of his life. Now single and the memory of Smallville growing more distant through his rear-view mirror, he is taking on roles that are far more human. Recently, Welling appeared in another movie entitled Draft Day, taking on the part of Brian Drew.
When you study anyone who has arrived at a place of success, you will find they are characteristically involved in a near constant process of reinvention over the course of their lifespan.
This “success” characteristic is true of for people regardless of their gender, ethnic background or career history, be it in business, sports or entertainment.
You see if we are to truly grow, we must reinvent ourselves from time to time in order to evolve.
Career counseling can sometimes be a helpful way of helping us to discover or reinforce things about ourselves that can cause success.
Here’s a fun exercise to get you thinking. Take a piece of paper and jot down all of the people you admire who have transformed themselves. These individuals can be friends, family or anyone in the public domain (i.e. movie star). I bet it won’t take long before you run out of places to write.
What characteristics did you notice? Were there any themes you could identify that were constant among the people on your list?
Three reinvention take-aways from Welling
Here’s what I scribbled down about Welling using this technique that you might want to consider as potential take-aways for your own reinvention process. Think of Welling as a “transitional object” as we like to say in the behavioral sciences.
- Believe in your core skills and gifts
- Don’t let anyone “typecast” you
- Don’t let your past define you
The process of reinventing yourself doesn’t happen overnight. Lasting, meaningful transformation is never instant when you think about it. In truth, it takes time for our own personal metamorphosis to “gel” and become integrated into our self-concept.
If Tom Welling can make an effort to move beyond the shadow of Clark Kent, you can create reinvention in your own life. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you “can’t”. Believe in your core skills and the gifts you were born into this world with.
Remember that your past is simply that – the past. Don’t let it define you.
I hope you see the movie Parkland and not just because it is compelling docudrama but because there are also few life lessons to be learned.
Reinvention is possible … for you and for me – and – as we are seeing right before our eyes, Tom Welling.
Can you dig it?
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Oh – and hooray for Hollywood! Woot Woot!
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