06/23/2015 07:50 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Anthony Mackie on Achieving Big Dreams


He has starred in feature films, television series, and Broadway and Off-Broadway plays. He starred as Tupac Shakur in the feature film, Notorious. He also played feature roles in 8 Mile, The Hurt Locker, Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter, Million Dollar Baby, We Are Marshall, and most recently played the role of Falcon in Captain America. His name is Anthony Mackie and I recently sat down with the 36-year-old actor, artist, and achiever of huge dreams, to discuss what it takes to realize your dreams in a business with massive barriers to entry. What does it take to become a movie star?

Here are Anthony Mackie's three secrets to reaching for and achieving big dreams:

Immerse Yourself: Anthony originally went to college to become an engineer but was soon bit by the acting bug. He quickly made a U-Turn in his education and found his way to New Orleans Center for Creative Arts where he would immerse himself in the art he was beginning to love. He absorbed all he could about his craft and eventually found his way to Juilliard, the performing arts conservatory in NYC. Anthony says that the number one way to achieve massive dreams is to learn everything there is to know about what it is you're after.

Find Mentors:
Like most big achievers, Anthony has had mentors in his life. He says that it is essential to allow yourself to be molded and changed by the lives of others. Interestingly, some of Mackie's mentors have been the characters he has played throughout his career. For example, Anthony played the role of Nate Ruffin in We Are Marshall. In 1970, Nate Ruffin was a 20 year old defensive back with the Thundering Herd. He had injured his arm two weeks earlier and was unable to travel with his team to Greenville, NC for the football game that Saturday. As history goes, the flight crashed, killing 75 passengers including all 38 of Nate Ruffin's teammates. Anthony Mackie noted that playing that role had a profound impact on his own life. It taught him about the power we each have to change our own lives and it ingrained in him the gift to never take life for granted. Anthony also starred in August Wilson's Fences and he says that role taught him so much about what it is to be a man. Mackie acknowledges that each role he plays forever shapes who he is as a person both on and off stage. In becoming the character, the character also becomes him.

Other People's Insecurities: I asked Mackie what his number one piece of advice is to someone who is just beginning their journey toward a huge dream. Mackie said, never, never, never let someone else's insecurity define your passion. Mackie notes that when you have huge dreams, people are going to tell you that you should dream smaller because your dream is impossible. Ignore them. He says people will try to define what you can do by their own insecurities. As Mackie says, nobody knows what you are capable of except for you. Don't listen to anyone who tells you that you can't do it. Just believe in you.