Irish star Packy Lee has spoken about the moment that his teacher laughed at him when he said he wanted to be an actor.
The Belfast man found success starring alongside fellow Irishman Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby’s associate Johnny Doggs in the BBC mega hit Peaky Blinders.
However, as a teenager Lee had wanted to change schools so he could study drama as a subject but didn’t get the reaction he hoped for from his teachers.
They were not supportive at all and even laughed at the very idea of him acting for a living when he grew up, saying there were no opportunities for him.
Lee said: “If you said it now, people would say, ‘OK, fair play to you.’
“But 25 years ago, if I said I wanted to be an actor, people laughed at me. That’s being honest.
“I asked if I could move school because my school didn’t do GSCE drama. And they called my parents in, got them into a room and they said, ‘Now you listen to me Mr Lee and Mrs Lee, your son is from West Belfast and there are no opportunities or jobs in any industry of acting that he would classify for.
“It’s just not possible. So why would he move school to be an actor when the job criteria is certainly not available?’”
Lee’s parents showed more faith in him and allowed him to change school and study drama – on the condition that he trained as a chef as a backup plan.
It turned out to be a great decision as his acting career has gone from strength to strength.
He now says that while he is polite to his old teachers when he bumps into them, he feels they let him down and could have held him back if he had not believed in himself.
Lee said: “I’ve bumped into a few of those teachers who were in that committee board who were the ones who giggled and laughed at me wanting to leave.
“It’s great to see them now. I’m just being honest. I’m not rude at all, I’m very polite but there was no belief. If you don’t believe, you’re the one letting other people down and stopping them fulfilling their dreams.”
He added that since becoming a TV star, people back home in West Belfast get very surprised when they see him out and about living a normal everyday life.
He said: “I walk to the shopping centre and I’m doing messages and people will stop me and go, ‘You do your own shopping?’ Are you for real? ‘Do you not have someone who does it for you?’ What do people think I am?
“I’m just an average guy from West Belfast in an extraordinary job. And because the show is so massive at the minute, it’s made the job that bit more extraordinary.”
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling