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Movie veteran shares secret on beating the odds

By Contributed
On April 19, 2012

Nearly half of us have given up on the notion that we can get ahead by digging in and working hard, but the American dream still has a champion in Hollywood TV and film director Guy Magar ("La Femme Nikita," "The A-Team," "Battlestar Galactica").

As with so many stories out of Hollywood, Magar's reads like a made-for-TV movie. A young Egyptian refugee immigrates to the United States and latches onto two dreams: becoming a filmmaker and finding his one, true love. Despite being a kid from the New York suburbs with no connections to the film industry, he finds a way to manage the first. And, after years of searching, he finally gets the girl, too.

He discounts the ABC News/Yahoo poll that found that, at the height of the recession, 43 percent of us had lost faith in the American dream.

"People have suffered because of the economy, but there have always been economic ups and downs - and there have always been Americans making their dreams come true," he says. "My dreams were seemingly unattainable, but I made them happen because mine was a passionate pursuit - I never stopped trying and that's what it takes."

How can anyone overcome seemingly insurmountable odds? Magar offers his recipe for success:

• Dare to dream. If you have a career dream, find a way to experience it through school or internships to make sure it's a profession you love. Dreams require passion, and you may not have enough to fuel a hard journey if you haven't tested the waters first.

• Don't settle. It's easy to jump the gun at 22, or panic at 32, but when you have a dream you're passionate about, you need to believe in yourself and hold fast, Mager says.

• Work at it like there's no tomorrow. Magar's first feature film, "Retribution," required 12-hour days seven days a week for three months - just for the prep work of finding locations, working on the script, casting, sets and costumes. He knew how to get it done.

Magar immigrated to New York City with his family in 1958 after a military coup radically changed Egypt.

The family came with nothing, and Magar spoke no English. Eventually, their situation improved and Magar finished his growing-up years as a middle-class kid in an idyllic little New York town.

It wasn't until after he'd graduated from Rutgers College with a degree in philosophy that he discovered his love for telling stories visually through film.

This article was submitted by Ginny Grimsley, national print campaign manager of News and Experts.

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