It can in fact happen when you’re in the right place at the right time.

He was, Harry Belafonte, the singer activist, who dropped out of high school, worked odd jobs, enlisted in the Navy, got out in 1945 and went to work as a janitor in a New York City apartment building. While installing Venetian blinds for a tenant, an actress in the American Negro Theater gave him tickets to a play they were performing— “about returning black servicemen trying to establish postwar lives in Harlem . . . That play didn’t just speak to me, it mesmerized me.” He joined the company and then a theater workshop at the New School, his fellow students: Tony Curtis, Walter Mathau, Bea Arthur, Elaine Stritch, Wally Cox  Rod Steiger, and Marlon Brando. Of Brando, he said, “I never met a white man who so thoroughly embraced black culture. He loved going with me to black clubs.” A saxophonist at one of these clubs saw Harry sing at a New School production and got him a gig there. “I’m not a singer, what you saw me do was acting,” but he took the job for $70 a week singing “Pennies from Heaven.” The rest, as  they say, is history.