I went to the University of Texas at Austin to play baseball. In high school I wanted to be a pro baseball player, and I never really thought about movies outside of taking dates to them and stuff like that. And when I tried to walk on to the UT baseball team, I did pretty well—up until they chose the traveling squad and I didn’t make it. That’s when I started taking film classes, and the bug bit me: I basically gave up athletics altogether and concentrated entirely on film. One of the frustrating things in my senior year was that there was a senior filmmaker class, and to get in, you had to write a script and do a budget on it; the four best were picked to be made. But I didn’t make the cut. I didn’t get into that class, so I had no real film classes my senior year. I got cut from being a filmmaker too. About six months later, I packed up, left for Hollywood, and went off on my own. I wanted to do film for the rest of my life, but I knew I didn’t have to strike gold my first year.

Stephen Herek directed 101 Dalmatians, which earned more than $45 million in its first weekend in theaters, as well as the Academy award–nominated Mr. Holland’s Opus. He was born in San Antonio and graduated from UT in 1980.