By James Lewis ~
She danced with death and won. Now, Linda Eicher is a successful actor.
At the age of 57, Linda emerged from a grueling battle with breast cancer and decided to follow the advice she gave her grown kids: find your passion, and you’ll never have to worry about a paycheck. She was going for her dream: to be a professional actor in New York City.
“Yes, that’s what some of my so-called friends thought,” Linda said. “But I didn’t take their criticism. I just thought, ‘Back off bitch!’”
For more than 50 years, she dreamed to be on stage again, a seed that was planted in the second grade when she played Mary Martin in South Pacific.
“I wore my little sailor hat and danced around,” she said. “Everybody’s eyes were on me. I thought, “Ooooh, I like that!’”
With college, marriage, children, and a successful job all behind her, nothing was tying Linda down. She had a modest travel stash of $2,000, so she rented a truck and left Oklahoma for NYC.
She was unstoppable.
She found an affordable place — a fifth-floor walk-up — with a bedroom the size of her closet in Oklahoma. Her roommate, the age of one of her daughters, showed her the ropes of survival in the Big Apple: how to use the subway, where to shop for cheap groceries, and how to use the New York City Public Library.
Eventually, Linda got an agent, appeared in an Off-Broadway show, and started doing commercials.
And then she met James, another late-in-life actor seeking success in the Big Apple.
“We got each other,” she remembers. The two married in Central Park in 2010.
Then Linda realized it was time to move on.
“I’d done what I came to do,” she said. “I was a working actor in New York City. I loved my life, but I missed my kids so much my heart hurt.”
Since her new husband, James, was a voice actor, he could set-up a home studio anywhere. So, they agreed to settle in McKinney to be near friends and family.
Still, there was a part of her not being nourished.
“I missed being around kids,” Linda said. “Many years ago, I’d taught acting and modeling to middle and high school students.”
Along came Angi Burns and Ovation Academy of the Performing Arts, a start-up for young people in the arts.
“After we talked, Angi told me, ‘You are exactly what we are looking for,’” Linda said. “And I told her, ‘You are exactly what I’m looking for.’”
And what Linda needed.
Now, Linda’s students are talented, bright, motivated young people. Many are appearing in film, television, commercials, and theatre.
“It gives me great joy,” she said, “knowing that I can provide that guidance, knowing I am where I’m supposed to be.”
And the daring middle-aged actress who followed her dream? Perhaps a little greyer. But she’s just fine.
“The kids love it that I still go to auditions,” Linda said. “And book new gigs.”
And also a popular teacher at the Ovation Academy of Performing Arts in McKinney, Texas. She’s guiding middle and high school students through the ins and outs of the entertainment business: auditions, getting an agent, acting, and creative writing.
Life is good.