David Meadows: Harness Your Strengths And Follow Your Purpose
What do you get when you cross patriotism with selflessness, layer in some Shakespeare, and pile on the talent and snark? You get David Meadows.
David Meadows is quick to point out that he’s not sure he would have joined the military after 9/11, but one gets the sense he would still have been first in line. As it was, David had been in the Navy for about a year before that tragic day. He’d fallen short of passing SEAL training once but returned after 9/11.
This time he left with a trident.
More interested in intelligence gathering and “stalking,” as he jokes, than in door-kicking and room-clearing, David ultimately fell on the recon side of things and ended up deploying multiple times. He participated in almost 60 combat operations which earned him a combat action with Valor medal.
In his line of work, David didn’t often have the opportunity to interact with the locals. Given the fact that the ones he did interact with were typically trying to kill him, he simply wrote the entire society off, assuming they all hated Americans.
It was very easy to disassociate yourself,” he says. But that mindset changed on one mission.
It was a big fight –one where his team “went through quite a lot of Taliban,” he remembers. As the dust settled and the civilians began peeking out, David had his first opportunity to see how mistaken he’d been.
“I’ll never forget how a couple women and children literally ran over and hid behind us like they were so scared,” he says in a voice now devoid of the humor that had been there just moments before. His eyes reflect more raw emotion than mirth as he continues to describe the magnitude of that moment.
It had been eye-opening to realize that even though he and his team had just killed these women’s neighbors and friends, they were still clinging to him and his team like lifelines. It was then that he understood how truly terrified these innocent civilians are. Daily campaigns of brutality and terror at the hands of those same neighbors and friends had thrust these people into the very trenches of hell, and David’s team had just given them a reprieve.
He’d gone in there expecting these civilians to “fling shit,” at them, and the total opposite had happened. It was a game-changer for him.People are just people, all over the world, most people just want to live and not be terrified. – David MeadowsClick To Tweet
This is the lesson and the moment he hangs on to when some people challenge his reasons for doing what he did in service. Whenever someone now asks him why he believes the fighting is necessary, he turns that question back on them and asks, “What would you do if that was the only way to defend and protect your family from this same terror?” Without fail his challenger will state yes, in that instance, he would fight.
“Everyone’s willing to fight for their own family. Military people are willing to fight for families they’ll never meet and often, even for families we think hate us.”
As sure as he was and always will be of his service, the time came when David Meadows felt it was time for a change.
The hunger he’d felt to serve had been satiated and it was time for him to return to civilian life.
The transition was trickier than he’d anticipated. He wandered into the corporate world. David gave it what he could but that cubicle was not large enough to house his energy or his personality, so he meandered right back out of it. It was time for him to gather the intelligence he’d need to plot his next path, and David threw himself into that task.
Still stinging from some of the jokes and lack of encouragement he’d received when he’d told people he wanted to be a Navy SEAL, David kept his next move close hold, trusting only a few friends with his newly discovered ambition to become an actor.
There is immense power in proximity. As a SEAL he’d surrounded himself with a team he’d known had his back, and he did the same thing now. He may have understood why people would be skeptical of him leaping from being a SEAL into acting, but he was still certain it was the path he wanted to take. So as he’d done before, he ignored the naysayers and committed himself to his new career.
Undaunted by his complete lack of experience, David managed to develop relationships with industry experts. Armed with their advice, he moved directly into auditioning. Rather than view his first big role as achievement enough, David went ahead and invited local industry professionals to see his performance.
Fear of failure or embarrassment in front of his peers didn’t even factor into his decision to send those invites. “Most of the people that will laugh at you or shit-talk you for trying are people who secretly wished they’d tried. They want to laugh because they don’t want you to be better than them and go do something they’re scared of doing,” he says.
The bold move paid off.
His tenacity and talent earned David Meadows the representation of a professional agent.
From there that work ethic that made him excel in the military kicked into overdrive, and he began training intensely while going out on auditions and learning the business.
He’s a firm believer in the American Dream and its availability to anyone with enough confidence and commitment to work for it. He understands that doing that work will lead you to cross paths with others who have done the same, and those relationships will factor into success – even if it takes longer than One would like. He knows this because he’s lived it.
David’s work ethic, talent, and energy attracted the right people into his life. Soon he was sharing a movie screen with the likes of Max Martini and Tom Hanks in the huge hit “Captain Phillips,” which got him his SAG eligibility. Since then he has appeared in a dizzying array of stage, screen, and TV performances. He’s also honed his craft and dived deep into self-discovery, most notably through a surprising method for a former Navy SEAL – classical acting.
Intense training at the Michael Howard Conservatory and The Studio/New York Drama Conservatory, coupled with time spent performing in Prague, crafted him into a cultured classical actor and accelerated his own personal development.
“What? Why? You’re an idiot!” David’s eyes laugh along with the rest of him as he recounts the reactions he got from people first when he announced he wanted to be a Navy SEAL, and then when he opened up about his acting ambitions. But the joke is on everybody else because he’s done and continues doing just what those people said he couldn’t.
His professional success is accomplishment enough. It seems destined to do nothing but grow. Yet equally important is the personal success he’s gained by pushing through setbacks and defeats, defying the naysayers, and being true to himself. Now he’s happy to help other navigate the same challenges he has. His advice for anyone with a dream they are hesitant to chase is this:
“If you do truly believe in something yourself and nobody else understands it, that’s okay. Just go do it.” – David Meadows