Celebrities reveal the moments which inspired their careers
Deciding what job or career you want to have in the future can be scary. It seems scarier when it looks like other people have everything sorted and you’re left asking ‘how did they get there?’.
Fear not - if you’re in need of some help to decide your career choice, we’ve got you.
Familiar faces, like David Attenborough and JK Rowling, all had that moment when they realised what career was meant for them. We've shared their stories here and also asked some well-known names what inspired them to choose their career. Their answers are not always what you might expect.
Sir David Attenborough, naturalist and broadcaster
“By and large there were two things,” says one of the world’s most revered nature broadcasters, David Attenborough, on what inspired his dedication to nature. “First of all there was the Leicestershire countryside which is where I grew up and apart from that, there were wonderful books.
“One of the books which I don’t think anybody, well, very few people know about now, was by a man called Ernest Thompson Seton, he was a ranger in the Canadian prairie and he wrote about the animals that he knew, the wolves and the buffalo and so on.
“He drew, he was a good artist as well. He drew the little footprints down the margins, the side margins and I adored those books,” says Attenborough.
JK Rowling, novelist
The author who brought Harry Potter to an eternally grateful audience can barely remember a moment when she didn’t want to be a writer - or a reader.
“I lived for books,” she remembers. “I was your basic, common-or-garden bookworm, complete with freckles and National Health spectacles.”
Her first book was about a rabbit, written when she was six years old. Another early example of Rowling’s work came when she was 11 and featured seven cursed diamonds, something which sounds closer to Potter territory.
But Rowling famously was a late starter in her now extremely successful career. What happened to steer her onto the course she’s best known for?
“Fear of failure is the saddest reason on earth not to do what you were meant to do,” she says, offering guidance to anyone facing a crisis of confidence as she did.
“I finally found the courage to start submitting my first book to agents and publishers at a time when I felt a conspicuous failure. Only then did I decide that I was going to try this one thing that I always suspected I could do and if it didn’t work out, well, I’d faced worse and survived.
“Ultimately, wouldn’t you rather be the person who actually finished the project you’re dreaming about, rather than the one who talks about ‘always having wanted to’?”
Professor Brian Cox, physicist
Before he made physics accessible to a whole new generation, Professor Cox played keyboards for 1990s dance act D:Ream. But it was sci-fi that led Professor Brian Cox on the road to the stars.
“I couldn’t tell the difference … between science fiction, and science and physics and I suspect that … exciting mixture of the tail end of the moon landings, this great science fiction renaissance … fed into my desire to be a scientist and a physicist.
“As far back as I can remember there’s something about science and about the excitement of exploration … that always appealed to me.”
Alex Scott, footballer
A former England and Arsenal player, Alex continues to use her passion for football through work such as commentating on the 2018 World Cup. Football has been always been a massive part of her life.
For Scott, fun and teamwork were as much a part of her inspiration as the game itself. She remembers: “That moment at school when the school bell rung, I would get so excited because I knew I was heading out to that football cage to play with all my school mates.
“No-one had positions, you played any position that you wanted to be. It was just about having fun, being part of that team environment and I knew that was what I wanted - to be a footballer.”
Kem Cetinay, TV presenter and Love Island winner
With those perfect pearlers, six pack and cheeky personality, you’d be forgiven for thinking Kem’s background lay in personal training or public relations.
But the 22-year-old Essex lad’s career aspirations revolved around hairdressing before Love Island came calling.
He says: “The moment I knew I wanted to be a hairdresser, I looked in the mirror and thought ‘I’ve got a great set of hair’, so I want to help other people out.”
It was as simple as that. And we have to agree. Kem, you do have absolutely smashing locks.
So there you have it, five different stories which all prove there’s no standard way to get that career you’ll love. It could be a split-second of inspiration, years of graft and dealing with rejection or becoming entranced with a concept and seeing it through to a natural conclusion.
But passion is the thread which binds them all. If there’s a career out there you want, then go for it. There are hundreds of career options so make sure you find the one that fits you best.