Soon after graduating from Dartmouth, where he was a soccer star, Andrew Shue's became one of the most recognizable faces on television. He then used his fame from Melrose Place to make a difference as an activist.
Perhaps appropriate for an actor, at age 39 Andrew Shue is well into his fourth act, going from Dartmouth soccer standout to African math teacher to Hollywood star to dedicated activist -- and sometimes back again.
To the outside observer it is a zigzag line. But for Shue it has been one continuous progression that started with a trip to visit his brother, Will, at Dartmouth when Andrew was a sophomore in high school. There was something about the small town of Hanover, N.H., and the access to nature that appealed to him, and everything came together when Andrew was recruited by Dartmouth to play soccer as a high school junior and senior.
Shue began his career at Dartmouth in 1985 and made an immediate impact on the soccer field, forming part of renowned coach Bobby Clark's first freshman class. The Big Green would go on to earn a share of the Ivy League crown in 1988, Shue's senior season, and Shue was a first team All-Ivy selection as a midfielder that year.
But, Shue says, soccer meant much more to him than what transpired on the field.
"Soccer gave me the grounding for succeeding," Shue says. "It immediately creates a community for you and gives structure to your daily life that allows you to do better. I always did better academically in the fall."
He adds, "Being up there and being able to go for walks in the woods, I definitely enjoyed the atmosphere up there. In retrospect, the one thing I wish I had done more of is on the community side."
Since his graduation in 1989, Shue has more than made up for his supposed shortcoming. Shue's parents taught school in Nigeria in the early 1960s, instilling the virtue of civic responsibility into Andrew, and he was taken by the pictures in Clark's office of the Bulawayo Highlanders, a soccer team in Zimbabwe that Clark had coached prior to his time at Dartmouth.
So with the support of Clark and his parents, Shue moved to Bulawayo in 1989 to teach math at a local school and play professionally for the Highlanders.
"It seemed like a place to go and learn about the rest of the world," Shue says. "If any other Ivy League graduates are looking to go out there and get that taste right after you graduate, I think it's a good thing to do.
"The year in Africa had a huge impact on giving me confidence to succeed in whatever I went after, and it gave me a grounding on what's important in life. When I came back I knew I wanted to do something that challenged me and not be afraid to fail."
Shue returned to the States in 1990, moved to New York City and trained his sight on acting. He worked with an acting coach for a year before moving to Los Angeles, where he landed the role of Billy Campbell on Melrose Place.
To this day, Shue is best known for the role, though he says his designation as an actor always feels like an odd fit.
"I think it was a destiny to do other things," Shue says. "I never thought of myself as, ‘Gosh, I have to be an actor no matter what.' It was more about finding certain means to go after other ends. I was always more of an entrepreneur than an artist."
Shue used his notoriety as an actor to open doors to the projects that lay closest to his heart. Those include DoSomething.org, an organization he co-founded in 1993 to spur community service and activism in school-aged kids, and ClubMom, started in 1999 as a national social network for mothers.
Shue remains the chairman of DoSomething.org but says he is currently dedicating the bulk of his time to working at ClubMom and to producing a movie, "Gracie," with his sister, Academy Award winner Elisabeth Shue. The movie is about a young girl who finds her power and strength through... soccer.
In between, he spends time with his wife and works around the youth sporting commitments of his three sons. "It's a good, full life," Shue says. "It's all about trying to find a balance."
— E.J. Crawford