IN LIFE, there are some really big triumphs. Winning the Powerball lottery maybe. Or graduating first in your class from medical school. But sometimes the smaller successes satisfy just as much because they can serve as signposts that let you know your life is heading in the right direction.

Just ask Tiffany E. Green, a Philadelphia-based actress who recently made her big-screen debut in the new film "Silver Linings Playbook," which stars Hollywood A-listers Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro. She plays Chris Tucker's girlfriend in the Eagled-out story about love, bipolar disorder and Iggles fanaticism.

The East Oak Lane mother of two had been in the acting game officially only for a year when she got tapped for her role as Tanya.

Not that it's a big role. In the script, Green had a line or two, but they wound up on the cutting-room floor. She appears in the movie three times for a total of perhaps 20 seconds. Maybe less.

If you drop your cellphone on the floor of the theater and bend down to get it, you could miss Green's first appearance on screen, when her character is introduced to Cooper's. But she makes the most of it: I remember watching her grin broadly as the camera pans in her direction. She's been grinning every since.

"Dialogue or no dialogue, that's still big," Green said. "I've seen that movie so many times. It's exciting watching myself on screen."

"It's a great start," agreed Diane Heery, of Heery Casting, in Fishtown, who cast local talent for the movie. "It's an incredible leg up to getting her career started - especially being in a film that's having such incredible success. It's getting rave reviews all over the place."

Set in Philadelphia, "Silver Linings" tells the story of Pat Solitano (played by Cooper), who is trying to piece his life back together after being released from a psychiatric facility . . . and trying to woo back his ex - played by another Philadelphia actress, Brea Bee.

For Green, landing a role in a major Hollywood movie is vindication against naysayers who pooh-poohed her decision to pursue acting after being laid off in 2010 from an administrative job at the School District of Philadelphia.

She'd taken drama classes at Freedom Theatre after high school, but had wandered away from the craft. She dabbled in fashion design (creating a line of hand-painted denim worn by rapper Eve and actress Vivica A. Fox, among other stars) and in real estate, and had a gig selling cupcakes and her trademark Fruity Iced Tea to customers inside local barber shops and hair salons.

The layoff gave her the motivation to give acting another shot. The way she saw it, "I could either be someone who chased her dream throughout her life, or I could be someone who spent her life wondering how the chase felt."

Green chose the former, and that has turned out to be her silver lining.