INTERVIEW: A how-to guide for life

A how-to guide for life
By: Jennifer Smith
Date: August 17, 2010
Source: Kelowna Capital News


Actor Aaron Douglas (right) is back in his hometown of Kelowna helping his brother Chris promote his new self-help book,
Human: An Operator’s Manual, a book Chris describes as
"human for dummies."

Yes, it is possible. You can graduate from high school in a small town like Kelowna and still see your name in lights.

Aaron Douglas, star of the new CTV drama The Bridge, walked out of KLO Secondary School – back when there was such a place – and into a life destined to make him a star.

Yet listening to his story this week as he sat at a coffee shop on Bernard Avenue, one would hardly describe his trajectory as a how-to guide to acting success.

“I had no idea I could do this as a career,” he said.

From doing Shakespeare in City Park to several years of laying floors and finally a role as a diet consultant in Vancouver, Douglas fully admits his penchant for drama had been shelved for the trappings of a responsible adulthood when an opportunity basically fell in his lap.

It wasn’t until a man he was doing a diet consultation with suggested he try out for Vancouver’s William Davis Centre, through the Vancouver Institute of Media Arts, and take some classes that Douglas even considered a career on camera. One thing led to another and he was soon offered a spot as one of the 10 to 12 actors the school takes in each year.

His wife at the time ascribed to a “you only get one chance at life” philosophy and Douglas said he decided to take the risk.

That decision, and the string of events leading up to it, actually do make him somewhat of a how-to role model for the self-guided success story, according to his brother.

Chris Douglas, a local mental health and addictions counsellor, figures his older brother’s life really is the perfect example of how to make successful life decisions and, as it turns out, he has just written a how-to guide for others to follow in a similar vein.

“I call it human for dummies,” the actor joked as he explained how the pair are planning a joint book launch and lecture at the Rotary Centre for the Arts this fall.

Aaron’s life will serve as a real life example of how to keep the ball rolling forward as Chris examines how some of our basic human instincts tend to get in the way as we cope with a 21st century.

Over the last 200,000 years our survival instincts have developed to respond to certain stimulus in prescribed ways, Chris said, but with the rapid development of the last couple of centuries, sometimes our responses no longer fit the bill.

To put it in context, he suggests looking at how we all cope with a particularly stressful day.

“Here I am responding to phone calls and emails in the same way I would be reacting to running from a tiger 400 years ago,” the younger Douglas brother said.

Human. An Operator’s Manual, as he has called the book, tries to explain the relationship between our reptilian, mammalian and executive brain functions and shares some of the scientific research psychology has produced to help us understand how to deal with challenges and the relationships in our lives.

“You don’t have to spend years in therapy to deal with an issue,” his mother, Arlene Elliott said.

She too works as a counsellor and says the research her son is talking about can make anything from coping with death to breaking a bad habit make more sense.

The pair share a practice, Elliott, Douglas and Associates, where their philosophy is explained in detail.

For his part, Aaron says, he is hoping to give a talk during the day for those hoping to break into the acting field as well. Watch the website for details.

The evening talk will take place in conjunction with the book launch Friday, Oct. 1, in the Rotary Centre for the Arts. Tickets are already on sale at


WEBMISTRESS NOTE: The above article/interview with Aaron and Chris is to promote two events.


Aaron Douglas on Acting
Friday, October 1st, 2010 @ 1:00pm
Rotary Centre for the Arts – Mary Irwin Theatre – 421 Cawston Avenue, Kelowna, BC. Canada.
Purchase tickets ($20) HERE.


An Evening With Aaron Douglas and Chris Douglas
Friday, October 1st, 2010 @ 7:00pm – 9:30pm / Meet and Greet 9:30pm – 10:00pm.
Location is the same as above.
Purchase tickets ($32) HERE.