Maybe you are still working but looking for something new. Maybe you’re not still working but want to again. Maybe you just need change. That’s where Chicago’s Judi Schindler was when she fell into a whole new career. She calls it her second-act career, which has opened doors she’d never walked through before. And she loves it.
When I enrolled in college, I majored in journalism rather than theater (my two top interests), reasoning I’d have better job prospects as a writer or editor than I would playing Juliet.
What I didn’t know was, 50 years later I’d get a second chance.
Although I never became a police reporter like my role models (Brenda Starr and Lois Lane), I did run a successful, ten-person public relations firm in Chicago for more than 40 years. I also was active in organizations promoting women’s enterprise and small business interests.
Several years ago though, I realized I was aging out of public relations and reluctantly sold the firm.
Not being a business owner, however, left a huge void in my life. So, I revisited the road not taken in the 1960s.
I started taking acting classes. First one class. Then more classes. Then I realized that most of my fellow students were getting headshots and auditioning for theater and film work. Why not me?
Within months I was cast in my first small play. (Chicago has more than 250 professional theater companies.) Soon I had an agent and was doing commercial and film work as well.
Over the past 10 years I’ve performed in 25 plays, a dozen commercials and independent films. I also do voice-overs. All told, I earn enough to be considered a professional actor but not enough to quit my day job, if I still had a day job.
The other project that occupies me is a humorous one-woman performance piece I wrote shortly after I started acting. Titled, “Husbands: An Owner’s Manual,” it’s based on my 50+-year marriage to the same man, and explains how to select a husband and how to maintain him in good working order including replacement parts, warranties, and exchanges.
The show, which has been well received at women’s organizations, country/city clubs, and senior centers, inevitably spawned a book, also titled, “Husbands: An Owner’s Manual,” and a blog, “The Toilet Seat Must Go Down.”
When not acting or blogging, my days are filled promoting the book. I’m proud to say I currently have some 3,500 Instagram followers.
I’m often asked what advice I’d give other boomers who’d like a second career. Here’re some thoughts:
- Enroll in a class. You’ll not only learn something, you’ll be able to network with others interested in your field.
- Don’t be a technophobe. Everything is tech-dependent today. People under 40 don’t make or receive phone calls. They text, video conference, and share on Google Groups. You need to be able to do that too.
- Take risks. At this stage in your life what have you got to lose? It’s okay to try something new even if you fall flat on your face— a luxury you probably didn’t have in your youth.
I loved my public relations career. I don’t regret the path I took in my 20s. But acting has opened a new world. It’s challenging, engaging, and keeps me mentally fit. And who doesn’t like a little applause every now and then?!
Judi’s book is “Husbands: An Owner’s Manual.”