Patrick DiBuono

“ESPN was the first to call,” explains 59-year-old Patrick DiBuono. “They were filming a spoof on a famous ESPN Michael Jordan commercial. I auditioned, got the part, and had a wonderful shoot working with a famous cast and production crew.” Surprisingly, these are not the words of a seasoned actor. Rather, DiBuono, a Harrison resident, was a sales executive for decades, and the commercial was his first gig as an actor. 

Most embarking on an acting career only dream of the exposure DiBuono squeezed out of his 60-second promo for ESPN, “The Fake Skip Bayless.” The July 2012 spot poked fun at Bayless’ less-than-friendly reputation (he’s one of ESPN’s most critical and best-known commentators). DiBuono plays an ordinary man who happens to be named Skip Bayless, and, everywhere he goes, the people expecting him have plotted to avoid or prank him. It’s funny and sad at the same time, and DiBuono hardly speaks during the ad, but gloomy eyes and a palpable air of disappointment point to a reservoir of talent that you might not expect from a man who spent 30 years in corporate sales and management. 

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DiBuono began that career in 1976 selling computer systems at the Burroughs Corporation, which was, at the time, one of the world’s largest IT companies. Eventually he landed at Motorola, where he sold pre-internet connectivity solutions for 10 years and rose to New York sales manager, before founding his own company, Transparent Solutions, Inc., which sold LAN-based teaming technologies.

Then 9/11 changed his outlook. “The trauma of the event, and my age at the time [he was 47], made me feel that life was short—if there was a dream career out there, I’d better start looking for it,” says DiBuono.

He decided to give acting a shot in 2008, enrolling in Howard Meyer’s Acting Program in Pleasantville. DiBuono received praise from his instructor and took the stage in community theater. He didn’t take it too seriously until Peter Miner, an Emmy Award-winning director at the T. Schreiber Studio & Theatre in Manhattan, told DiBuono he could have a successful acting career. 

Miner was right. First came the ESPN gig, and then, in 2013, a role in Animal Planet’s Monsters Inside Me, in which DiBuono played a deranged father overtaken by a deadly brain fungus. Most recently, he landed a supporting role in a May episode of The Perfect Murder on the Investigation Discovery network, in which he played a small-town homicide detective. “I’m not there yet,” he says, “but I’m doing pretty good for a guy who just started.”

Career 180 Tip

Write down all the reasons you think you can’t do what you really want. And then give them a formal burial. You will then be free to focus on all the positive reasons you can have what will truly fill your life with joy.

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