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Actor Brian Howe has spent more than 30 years establishing a name for himself in Hollywood, and he said at a luncheon event in Providence that it was his education at Rhode Island College that made him realize he could make his career a reality.

Howe, a Barrington native, had acted in several high school plays when a drama festival brought him to the stage at Roberts Hall.

“I thought, wow, this is great,” Howe said, explaining that it was at this point that his parents both approved of his choice to attend RIC as a theater major.

“The experience was so good,” Howe said. “It didn’t occur to me that is was something I could do (professionally.) That was the shift.”

Howe spoke at a small, luncheon hosted by a RIC classmate and close friend, Dante Bellini, senior vice president at RDW Group.

During the lunch, Bellini showed a clip of an 8 mm film he produced as a RIC junior starring Howe.

“This is where he got his chops,” Bellini joked. “I can say I made you, man.”

RIC President Nancy Carriuolo attended the lunch, and gave Howe and Bellini some RIC memorabilia. Carriuolo asked Howe what advice he would give RIC theater students who want to follow in his Hollywood footsteps.

“Want it more than anything else or don’t waste your time,” Howe answered, adding that budding actors need to be prepared with confidence and the ability to handle the industry’s ups and downs. “It’s a life built on your ability to handle not getting (a job). Plaguing self-doubt can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Howe has had roles in films including “Catch Me if You Can,” “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “The Majestic.”

He has a recurring role on Lifetime’s “The Client List” and has appeared on TV shows including FX’s “Justified” and ABC’s “Castle.” He also recently had a role in the HBO movie “Game Change.”

Howe dished on his impressions of some famous co-stars, saying he’s had the opportunity to learn from some of the best, and admitted to having been star-struck when he met actor Christopher Walken on the set of “Catch Me if You Can.”

He also joked about his career as a character actor, saying it was by design that he’s perpetually been the actor beside the leading man instead of being the star himself.

“I’m a utility guy,” Howe said. “That’s what I want to be. A-list doesn’t last forever and I want to keep working. Fame happens. You can’t pursue fame. I’d rather be known to the people who do the hiring.”​