Glad you are still with me for my second post! Now that you know a little about what the blog will be about let me tell you a little about myself, and where this dream of mine came from. I was born in Canton, Ohio on June 23, 1981, and was the 3rd of eventual 4 sons. My father was a salesman, and after loosing his job started his own company selling golf course products. My mother was a nurse working in labor and delivery for many years. I have fond memories of my childhood, and I have my parents to thank for that. As most kids, I did not know what I would end up doing when I grew up, but as most kids I had some crazy ideas. What I wanted to do changed throughout childhood, until my dream finally turned into what it is today. Let me explain how my dream evolved over time.
Early on my parents noticed I had an interest in art when I started drawing animal heads on paper plates. I ended up with a very tall stack of plates with all my drawings. I have no idea why I used paper plates, but if I had to guess it was my mother’s idea. When I was a little older my parents got me into private art lessons. I remember very little about the different instructors I had over the years, but in 1993 when I was around 12 I started with a wonderful woman named Judy Hertzi. Her and her husband Joe ran a small private art school out of the basement of their home. I took classes from Judy until I left for college in 2000, and in that time I was able to cultivate my talent. I loved art and it was always my favorite subject in school. At least until my High School art teacher kicked me out of class my junior year, and told me I would never have a future in art. She would not allow me to take any art classes my senior year hence ending my art classes in high school. This did not bother me to much since I was still taking private lessons from Mrs. Hertzi. I considered the idea of doing art for a living, and the idea of becoming an animator started to surface.
My other passion early in life was Kung-Fu. It was the summer of 1988 when I was 7, when my brothers and I started taking lessons. It turned out that our neighbor across the street of our new house was a Grandmaster in Shaolin Kung-Fu. On warm summer evenings he would have class outside in his front yard, and my brothers and I would go to the edge of our yard and look across the street to watch. The one night they were learning how to use a bo staff, so we ran and got some broom handles so we could imitate what they were doing. Grandmaster Morris saw us, and after class walked over to talk to us and our parents. He knew that we were interested in learning martial arts, and tried to talk my mother into letting us take classes. She agreed, but with terms. It would only be for the summer, since we had to stop once school started. It turned out that kids’ class was every Friday, and before long all the other neighborhood kids were taking lessons. It was the big event of the week for me, and I could not get enough of it. Before long I was leading the class through exercises at the beginning of each lesson. When school started my parents let us continue taking classes. One evening Grandmaster Morris asked me to start coming on adult classes to help teach, and before long I was going to class 4 times a week. I was also getting free classes, and even making a little money for helping to teach. I quickly moved up the ranks and by the time I was 11 years old I was a black belt. In 1996, my freshmen year of high school, I was inducted into the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame as the “Instructor of the Year in Kung-Fu”. A new dream was emerging, and I wanted to open martial arts schools when I was older to teach Kung-Fu. A detail I left out was that Grandmaster Morris held the highest rank in the Shaolin Kung Fu Lung-Fa system, which made him the head of our system. In the entire world he was the top guy, and he named me as his successor to take over after him. It was an incredible honor, but also a huge and scary responsibility for a kid my age.
It seemed I had two very different paths, and you may still be asking how it came to be what it is now. The exact date of when everything came together is a little fuzzy, but it was around 1998. I was continuing to learning more about Walt Disney’s story, and was reading everything I could find about him and his company. I started to want to do what he did. One of the articles I read was by Augie Ray called “The Disney Story”. It talked a lot about the business side of things, and some of the struggles the Walt Disney company went through after the deaths of Walt Disney and his brother Roy. I remember one section where it talked about Roy(Walt’s nephew) who was trying to buy up stock to gain control of the company, and how when the dust settled Michael Eisner was in charge.
“When the dust finally settled, Disney was saved–at least temporarily–but was being run by two men who had never worked for the company for even a single day in their lives: Michael Eisner and Frank Wells. Neither was well known outside of Los Angeles and New York, but both brought solid reputations to their new jobs at Disney.” – Augie Ray
I could not stop reading it, and wanted to learn more. I realized for the first time I was extremely interested in the business world. I remember a long car ride with my dad where I was asking him questions about the stock market, corporations, the hierarchy of leadership, and even about hostile takeovers. Everything about the business world fascinated me. I started to think I could be a businessman when I grew up. Then, everything came together for me. As soon as the idea hit me it was as if my whole life was finally clear. I would combine my love of art and animation with my love for business. I would start my own animation company. Since making that declaration I have never altered or swayed from that course. I knew with such certainty of what I was meant to do that everything I did from that point was with this ultimate goal in mind. I wanted to find out how to make it reality. It was not long until it was clear to me that I would not be able to start an animation company in Ohio. I knew I needed to move to Los Angeles, and that was a hard pill to swallow. The idea of leaving family, friends, and the comfort of my home in Ohio was heart wrenching. Another thing was that I felt I would be letting Grandmaster Morris down by leaving. By following this dream meant I would have to give up another. This weighed heavily on me for several years, but I knew in every bone in my body that this was my passion. In 2000 I graduated from high school, and moved to Toledo, Ohio to attend an animation program at the University of Toledo. I continued taking Kung-Fu classes each summer when I was home, but I knew the time would come when I would need to leave Ohio, and Kung-Fu for good.
Thanks for Reading! I hope you will join me on the rest of my journey by subscribing to this blog. This can be done by email via the prompt on the sidebar, and also please leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.