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A Path to Fame

A Path to Fame

It was the mid- 1990s. Punks were, thank God, a thing of the past, high waisted trousers and Doc Marten shoes were sadly at the height of fashion and in the charts, the Britpop music scene was on the verge of taking over the world. Manchester band Oasis, by this time considered musical superstars, were performing at the city’s Maine Road venue to thousands of screaming fans.
Somewhere among the crowds was a small boy who couldn’t believe his luck that he had bagged himself and his friends free tickets to see his idols, and it was all because he happened to live on the same street where this once in a lifetime event was taking place.

Listening to the screams of adoration and watching the effect that the band on stage seemed to be having on everyone around him, young James McGlynn made a decision right then and there that when he grew up, he wanted that for himself. He wanted to be like Oasis, (only hopefully not look as scruffy) to hear people screaming his name, to have people know who he was.

“That Oasis concert is where it all started,” grins James, now 21. “I got the chance to see so many acts at Maine Road because I lived there. That young awareness was always there whenever I watched artists like Prince on stage, that awareness that I wanted to be up there myself and hear my name being recited by the audience – it looked like one hell of a good time!”
Interestingly, James, who now lives in Withington, on the outskirts of Manchester, started off life as a self conscious, quiet child who was so shy that he hid upstairs for hours when his mother invited his friends over for a birthday party. He gradually gained confidence as he grew older with stints at the Royal Exchange Contact Theatre and Contact Young Actors Company, but it wasn’t until he attended acting tutor Darren Gordon’s drama classes in Manchester that James said he began to think seriously about pursuing a career in the limelight. Gordon’s guidance enabled him to shake off the shy persona that seemed to dominate him, and to come out of his shell before the unfavourable nickname ‘Mouse’ began to stick for good. James says his mentor was the one person whom he has ever felt truly inspired by.

“I owe everything to Darren Gordon,” he says adamantly. “He has such a strong passion for what he does and yet he also has a kind of admiration for it, if you know what I mean. It’s hard to understand exactly what I mean but not everyone has that admiration, and it makes him unique.”
In his teens, when money was tight, McGlynn was given free singing lessons at the Royal Exchange Contact Theatre by musical coach Kim Kain, someone else who was of great influence to him and who encouraged him to pursue his dreams.

Whether he hits the big time through acting or singing or even playing the bongo’s on the street corner, James says he is open minded to everything. His dream is simple: to be famous, and to have people know his name.

“I want to be famous big time,” he admits. “It is a thought that can’t be transcribed, only felt within me. All I know is that I want to be on top of the world and have that one moment in time where my legacy lives on.”

But will he be able to handle fame? What does James think about David and Victoria Beckham, now so famous that their every single move is chronicled by the paparazzi on a daily basis. Surely that must put you off, I ask him. (After all, holding that same old pout at every single photo opportunity has to start hurting Victoria’s mouth one of these days?)

He thinks for a moment, before replying in the negative: “I think that’s where the true test is. You need to have solidarity between yourself. I admire the Beckhams. They handle the media intrusion as best they can.”

Though his ultimate goal is fame, James says he could never see himself applying for a TV reality show to get noticed, preferring to be noticed for his talent and not a celebrity figure who makes quick news in the celebrity gossip magazines and is famous for just a few months. I just can’t for the life of me think who he might be referring to here.

In all seriousness, it is clearly important to him that he gets an opportunity to inspire other people to succeed in their own dreams.

“I know what it’s like to struggle,” he confides quietly. “I’ve had such low points and been at the point where I literally had nothing, so I think that when you’re deprived of the attention that you crave, you end up developing a hunger for it and then that hunger eventually becomes bigger than the ambition itself.”

It would be easy for James to pursue his dream of fame by belting out ‘Copacobana’ on the X Factor, or to become the UK’s hottest celebrity just by sitting on a sofa with ten other people in the Big Brother house. Shows like these have made showbiz careers out of the most ordinary of people, people who have come from backgrounds similar to James’ own. But whilst he says he doesn’t judge “incredibly gifted” stars such as Leona Lewis, whose musical talent made her a national star on the X Factor, he thinks that reality TV shows can give young people “a false perspective that change and happiness is dependent only on fame”.

He adds: “I guess people want fame for different reasons. For me ideally, I want it to be for my talent and not because I was locked up in some house. Fame is certainly inevitable in the business that I am in , but in my opinion, life ultimately, is also about compassion and having the best damn time of your life!”

For now, James is clearly happy with the way his life is going. He has recently been cast in an upcoming BBC drama and has landed the lead role in a feature film. To help pay the bills between acting jobs, he also works in a city centre coffee shop.

One thing that remains steadfast is James’ upbeat confidence. He wants to make his mentors proud and to prove wrong anyone who has ever criticised him.

“I’ve always seen my life as being a preparation to something’s that’s so huge even my mind can’t conjure,” he says. “I know I’m not perfect. I see myself as a disjointed jigsaw puzzle in that nothing seems to fit but through any struggles and insecurities that I’ve dealt with, it’s made me try that much harder. And I know I always will.”

And even if one day James makes it big in Hollywood, the good news is, thanks to his coffee shop experience, he’ll always be a dab hand with a cappuccino maker!