Luke Perry shared how one attitude adjustment helped him overcome 256 rejections and get his first real acting job.

The world is mourning the death of an icon who lived and breathed ‘90s cool with the passing of Luke Perry at the age of 52.

Perry passed away four days after suffering a massive stroke.

He shot to stardom in 1990 as Dylan McKay on “Beverly Hills 902010." McKay was a bad-boy surfer with an intellectual streak whose soft-spoken intensity was reminiscent of James Dean.


via Alan Light / Flickr

Although he could never truly shake the McKay character, Perry worked consistently after “90210” left the airwaves in 2000. From 2016 until his passing, Perry starred as Archie Andrews’ father on the CW’s “Riverdale” and he's slated to appear in Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" which is set for a July release.

In Hollywood, it takes a lot more than talent to make it to the top. If you don’t have the connections, you’ve got to have tenacity and Perry’s was legendary.

In a satellite radio interview posted to YouTube by Sway’s Universe in 2013, Perry shared how his tenacity mixed with cultivating a take-it-or-leave-it attitude helped him overcome 256 rejections and land his role on “90210.”

(Skip ahead to 5:15 to hear the discussion.)

I just kept thinking, I just walked out of a room full of fools. Those people have no idea and you gotta keep telling yourself that because you gotta get back in the room. It's like a horse. You fall of you've gotta keep getting back on. ...

I was really starting to get quite a bit of an attitude at the end. Let’s say audition 250, I just walked in I’m going, ‘I know you’re gonna say no, just say it quickly so I can get to the next place.’

I knew everybody was going to turn me down, so I’m starting to get pissed off about it. And when I came in not expecting anything other than to be asked to leave, they sort of took notice of that and it changed the nature of the work I was doing.

I wasn't going in trying to be the guy they wanted. I said, 'Here's what I do and if you want this, you call me. If you don't want this you call somebody else. And I'm out.'

That enabled me to have the confidence to go in and it allowed me to feel like I was doing my work. I wasn't trying to serve whatever idea they thought it was and that's how I got 90210 and that's what Aaron [Spelling] responded to. I wasn't trying to do it like everyone else. I just said, ‘This is what I do — yes, no — I don’t care.’
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Brian Olesen never imagined he would end up homeless.

The former U.S. Air Force medic had led a full and active life, complete with a long career in the medical field, a 20-year marriage, and a love of anything aquatic. But after hip surgery and chronic back pain left him disabled in 2013, he lost his ability to work. Due to changes in eligibility requirements, he couldn't qualify for federal veteran housing programs. His back issues were difficult to prove medically, so he didn't qualify for disability. Though he'd worked his whole life, having no income for five years took its toll. He got evicted from a couple of apartments and found himself living on the streets.

But in 2018, two things completely turned Olesen's life around. He was able to both qualify for disability and to move into an affordable housing community in Miami's Goulds neighborhood called Karis Village.

When people think of affordable housing, they don't usually picture a place like Karis Village. The 88-unit development is brand new, and built with an attention to design that is not always expected for developments that serve as home to people on limited incomes. The apartments have tile floors, marble countertops, and all new appliances and furniture, and the grounds are beautiful and well-kept, with a playground and common areas for residents to gather.

Brian Olesen in his kitchen at Karis VillageCapital One

Karis Village isn't just a housing development; it's a home and a community. Half of the units are set aside for veterans who have experienced homelessness, like Olesen. The other half are largely occupied by single-parent families.

"To me, this building was just a gift," says Olesen. "All of the different parties that got together to put this building together… making half the building available to veterans. We've got no place to go."

Addressing veteran homelessness was one of the goals of Karis Village, which was built through a partnership that included Carrfour Supportive Housing — a mission-driven, not-for-profit affordable housing organization in southern Florida — and Capital One's Community Finance team. More than just an affordable place to live, the community has full-time staff on hand to help coordinate services—from addiction recovery programs to transportation options to job search and placement. Also included are peer counselors who provide emotional and psychological support for residents.

Karis Village, an affordable housing community in Miami, Florida.Capital One

Carrfour President and CEO Stephanie Berman says the core function of the services team on site is to build a supportive community.

"Often when you think of folks leaving homelessness and coming into housing, you think of shelters or some kind of traditional housing," she says. "You don't really think about a community, and that's really what we build and what we operate. What we're really striving to create is community. We find that our families thrive when you create a sense of community."

The intention to create a supportive community at Karis Village was a priority from the get go. Fabian Ramirez, a Capital Officer on Capital One's Community Finance team, says the bank did a listening tour in southern Florida to explore community development and affordable housing options in the area and to hear what was most needed. After deciding to partner with Carrfour, the bank provided not only an $8 million construction loan and a $25 million low income housing tax credit (LIHTC) investment to help build Karis Village, but it also kicked in a $250,000 social purpose grant to help fund the social support services that would be put in place for residents.

"It's not just all about providing the brick and mortar," says Ramirez. "It's about being able to contribute to the sustainability of the development and of the lives of the people who move into the building."


Capital One

Olesen says he and his fellow residents benefit greatly from the network of support services offered in the building. He says a counselor comes to meet with him once a month, sometimes right in his apartment. He also gets help maintaining a connection with the Veteran Affairs office. Other services include social workers and counselors for drug addiction and alcoholism.

Olesen loves being around other veterans, and he says hearing the sound of children playing keeps the community lively. He says anywhere else he could afford to live on disability wouldn't be nearly as nice and would likely involve shared kitchens and bathrooms and neighborhoods you wouldn't want to go out in at night.

If it weren't for Karis Village, Olesen says he doesn't know where he would be today: "I had nowhere to go and this is a safe, beautiful place to spend my retirement."

"I don't think they could have done a much better job of putting this place together and supplying us with what we need," he says. "I have so much appreciation for the ability to have a place to live. And then you add to that that it's beautiful and completely furnished and you didn't need to bring anything—I don't know what more you could ask for."

Karis Village and another development for veterans built the same year enabled the neighborhood of Goulds to meet the requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to declare an end to veteran homelessness in the area.

Ending veteran homelessness altogether is a complex task, but communities like Karis Village show how it can be done—and done well. When government agencies, non-profit organizations, and corporate funding programs come together to solve big problems, big solutions can be built and maintained.

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