Actor turned inspirational speaker Glenn Morshower sometimes has trouble getting through an airport without getting hugged. People remember the 54-year-old Texan for his seven seasons on Fox’s “24,” where he played Secret Service Agent Aaron Pierce.
Six years ago, he was filming a movie in Bulgaria and was coming through the airport.
“I had just got off the plane,” he said. “And there was this massive gentleman — every bit of 500 pounds and one of the most massive people I’d seen in my entire life — he comes up to me and throws his arms around me and says, ‘Aaron, Aaron.’ He didn’t speak a word of English, but he just hugged me.”
Morshower, who appears Saturday in the Grand Ballroom of the Charleston Marriott Town Center for West Virginia State University’s Black and Gold Gala, laughed about it.
“I love my life.”
It’s not just his well-remembered role on the Emmy Award-winning television drama people that draws people to him. Morshower has appeared in more than 160 TV and film projects, including all three of the “Transformer” movies, “X-Men: First Class” as well as 10 episodes of the revived “Dallas” TV show.
He’s played a lot of authority figures: police chiefs and sheriffs, special agents and military officers.
Most of them are based on his stepfather, a Navy commander.
“He was a tough old coot,” Morshower said. “I owe all of that to him.”
Still, while Morshower has become a widely recognized face on television and film, it’s not where his heart is exactly. His heart, as it turns out, is in inspiring people.
“I say inspirational as opposed to motivational,” he said. “Motivation is weak. You can motivate someone to get off their butt for 48 hours and get happy about life, but if you inspire them, you change lives.”
That’s what Morshower wants to do — more than acting — and over the last 27 years, while appearing in blockbuster films alongside household-name celebrities, he’s done that at seminars and boardrooms across the country.
Morshower said, “When I get to West Virginia, my theme is going to be making your dreams come true — not just talking about them, not just theorizing, but actually going to that place where your life becomes unstoppable, where you don’t have to hope or wish or want. You’re out of those things and actually expressing your life as you have always dreamed of it in the present tense.”
Inspiring people wasn’t what he originally intended to do, however. Originally, he was just teaching actors an approach to auditions that increased the number of jobs they got.
“And what actor doesn’t want that?”
None that he knew.
Morshower said that 12 years ago, after he did one of these talks at an auditorium in Houston, he was approached by a “good ol’ boy” with a thick Texas drawl.
“I know the accent; I’m from Texas,” he said. “It wasn’t until I got to California that I ever heard my name pronounced with just one syllable.”
The good ol’ boy had come to see him at the urging of his granddaughter. He told Morshower he wasn’t an actor, didn’t see the sense in coming, but was glad he had.
He said, “You weren’t up there talking about acting. What you’re talking about is life and efficiency, and I’m wondering if you might want to come talk to my people at Exxon.”
Morshower said, “That man changed my life.”
One talk led to another, and then another and another.
“I’ll do a seminar and it will lead to six or seven more,” he said. “It’s a domino effect.”
The core of his message is that people have forgotten who they are.
“We start out as gold-medal Olympic swimmers,” Morshower said. “We out-swam 600,000,000 competitors just to breathe, 600,000,000 other candidates vying for life.”
His point is that every human being begins as a winner, that no matter what other obstacles anyone faces, the odds of simply being born in the first place are greater than practically any other challenge.
It’s something everyone needs to remember, and what he does is help remind people of that.
Morshower said his talks are very personal and they resonate.
“People don’t just want handshakes after these things,” he said. “They want hugs.”
In fact, when he called for this story, he’d just finished an appearance at a Rockstar Marketing Bootcamp, an event hosted by Craig Duswalt, former road manager for rock band Guns N’ Roses.
In 10 minutes, Morshower was stopped twice for hugs with attendees of the boot camp as he moved across a hotel lobby toward a coffee shop.
Morshower’s speaking engagements have cut into his acting time, but he said he doesn’t care.
“I’m not hurting for work,” he said. “But I’d rather be available for this than my film and television jobs. I’d rather be facilitating people who are in the struggle mode.”
Still, he hasn’t given up acting. He wouldn’t do it if he didn’t enjoy it, and being on television keeps him in the public eye, keeps him familiar to people and helps fill seats at his speaking engagements.
“I have an amazing life,” he said. “I’m in love with life.”
Reach Bill Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5195.