Chris was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, just minutes ahead of his fraternal twin brother, Michael. As a child growing up in Iowa, Chris lived on a farm with his brother, older sister, and factory-working parents enjoying the country lifestyle of an average midwestern youngster. However, his carefree youth took a melancholy turn when his brother Michael was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and began suffering from recurring heart problems as well.
As they got older, Chris found the constant downswings in his brother’s health to be stressful and difficult. He often stayed away from the house in order to avoid hearing more bad news, and closed himself off emotionally. This didn’t stop him from acting like a brother. At school, Michael was the kid with coke bottle glasses and a hearing aid, which initially led to teasing and cruel treatment from other students. Popular and protective, Chris quickly put an end to such behavior, and made sure that neither his brother, nor any of the other kids, was bullied.
When the brothers were thirteen, Michael developed a heart condition called cardiomyopathy, a virus-related illness affecting his heart muscle. An emergency heart transplant was the only thing that could save him, and the prognosis looked grim. Distraught, Chris actually considered jumping off a hospital balcony to his own death, in order to save Michael's life with the donation of his healthy heart. Fortunately, before he could act, a group of doctors rushed in with the news that a donor heart had been found and was on the way. The transplant was a success.
As a young teenager, Chris kept himself busy. His first job was with his father, carrying shingles up to rooftops. He treated each job as a stepping stone to the next, from washing dishes to working in a grocery store deli to sweeping up at a cereal factory, and he never left one job until he secured the next. He also played sports and ventured into acting, appearing in a number of high school plays.
In college, Chris held down a variety of odd jobs, even selling blood to get by. So, when a talent scout offered him an invitation to enter a regional modeling contest, he had nothing to lose. He entered and won. Chris believed strongly in hard work, but also in seizing opportunities. He left school and entered an international modeling competition, and although he didn’t win, he did succeed in signing a contract with a prestigious New York agency. Appearing in a number of high profile ads for the likes of Calvin Klein, Versace, and Abercrombie & Fitch, Chris felt certain that trying his hand at acting professionally was the next logical step.
In Hollywood, Chris got right to work. One of his first auditions was for a role at NBC, where he was told that he wasn’t right, but was invited instead to read for a new pilot called “Wind On Water” about a cowboy surfer. Chris was unsure about the concept, but before turning it down, he auditioned at another studio for a different pilot called “Teenage Wasteland.” He took a risk and told the casting director that he needed to know by 3:45 that day if he’d gotten the role, because NBC was expecting his decision about their show by 4:00. The gamble worked, and he was hired as part of the cast of “Teenage Wasteland,” a sitcom that would become a huge hit during its seven year run… that is, after it was re-named, “That 70s Show.”
Christopher “Ashton” Kutcher may have gotten famous playing a stereotypical lunkhead, but he has displayed intelligence and maturity since attaining stardom. Besides acting in numerous blockbuster movies, he has successfully created and produced several TV shows that demonstrate his keen eye for edgy, watchable programming. He contributes financially and creatively to a number of tech startups, and in 2009, he co-founded an international human rights organization dedicated to ending the sexual exploitation of children.
After receiving the “Ultimate Choice Award” at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards this month, Ashton shared three beliefs he has about how to live your best life: “One: Opportunity looks a lot like hard work. Two: The sexiest things in the entire world are being really smart, thoughtful, and generous. And three: Everything that we call life was made up by people no smarter than you. So work hard to find your opportunities, don’t follow someone else’s definition of life, build your own, and always be sexy.”
Until next week...
Live Your Dreams