When hearing the word entrepreneur, what is the first thing that pops into your mind? Is it someone who is their own boss? Is it someone who has built a company from the ground up? Or even someone who is a contributor to a successful independent business? While those types of people qualify as entrepreneurs, that term is not exclusive to business owners. Instead, actors and musicians (performers) fall under that umbrella as well. Actors must maintain a lot of techniques that entrepreneurs do because the job field is quite similar. In an acting article titled “5 Skills Actors Must Adopt from Entrepreneurs,” it is stated that actors have to sell themselves the same way that entrepreneurs sell their product or their business. The opportunities and market for actors do not come from luck, but rather hard work and networking, much like being an entrepreneur.
The most successful actor-entrepreneurs attribute those skills mentioned above, but they also take the time to learn about their audiences and the role they are portraying. Without the knowledge of your consumers, how will you know who is attracted to your work? According to the Academy of Film, Theatre, and Television, broadcasting yourself is key as any entrepreneur would do. Specifically, the academy recommends social media and press releases to help broadcast yourself as an actor, and in return, you will eventually accumulate a following. We had the opportunity to interview an actor that understands these processes very well.
Bryan James: The Actor-Entrepreneur
In our interview with Bryan, we learned so much about how entrepreneurship has influenced his life as an actor. Bryan James is a California native and Los Angeles-based actor. You may have seen him in the TV series “TMI Hollywood,” “Youthful Daze,” and even a short version of “Rebel Without a Cause” as Jim Stark. The show, “Youthful Daze,” is an original that Bryan created on his own, starred in alongside Scott Disick, and received an Emmy nomination for in 2012. Bryan has his own IMDb page where his credits are listed, as well as his upcoming projects. Within those upcoming projects, Bryan disclosed that he has an upcoming TV show that he is working on called “Bloodbath,” which is a cop drama. Bryan discussed the amount of work he had to do for his role in “Bloodbath” and how it changed his perception of acting.
In the interview, we asked Bryan about some of the obstacles he has faced as an actor, aside from COVID-19, of course. Bryan revealed that, at times, it is hard to separate himself from the character he is playing. The example he gave was from his new show, “Bloodbath,” as his character is usually in heightened states of emotion. The heightened emotions in Bryan manifested as emotional duress, physical tension in his body, and even “weird withdrawals emotionally,” according to Bryan. To help fix this problem, Bryan stated that he turned to new aid medicine, such as acupuncture and cupping. These forms of self-care act as a release to Bryan while also providing physical aid to his problems with tension. This is a common issue with actors. Spotlight.com, a site for casting, has an article on ways to de-role, which discusses this issue exactly. The site tells readers that performers are twice as likely to develop anxiety and depression as the general public because of the emotions they are expected to convey as part of their role. As a remedy, the site says that the best ways to combat these problems are to create distance from the role or, as the title says, de-role. Their list is to get physical, let go of everything from that role, including props, costumes, makeup, etc., and reaching out to others for help while also being mindful.
Bryan’s tales about his life as an actor present similarities to business-oriented entrepreneurs. While his content is performance and film-based, he still has to apply the skills mentioned in the first paragraph to create success in his line of work. For business-oriented entrepreneurs, you all might be wondering, “how does an actor’s life help me learn about my field of entrepreneurship?” Well, as mentioned prior, all forms of entrepreneurship go hand in hand, and the details may add some enlightenment. We will break that down for you all.
Both performing and entrepreneurship come with a learning curve. Both can be achieved independently, and they can be achieved through signing on with an already established company and then branching out from there. Both also require determination and self-reliance, which are similar to managerial roles. In our interview with Bryan, we asked him the classic question of who would choose to play him in a movie about his own life. Bryan’s choice was Zac Efron, as he likes him as an actor, and he thinks Zac could portray him well. A similar question would be, who would you hire to help run the business in the entrepreneur field? Both questions require thoughts about work ethic, personal philosophies, and experience for the person of interest. Before the age of the internet that we are in now (also known as the Information Age), there were very few ways to broadcast yourself as an actor and an entrepreneur to obtain employees and clientele. Acting like a business is a job, with respect to social media and the power of the internet, according to Backstage.com. Now, people can utilize social media to either broadcast their skills or even recruit talent that way.
Similarly, entrepreneurs can showcase their talents via social media as well. According to the Data Reportal, there are 4.48 billion people in the world who use social media. With that being said, the Fordham Journal of Corporate and Financial Law explains that entrepreneurs are using social media as an economically conservative way of advertising their businesses. This form of advertisement is doing so well that law firms are expected to use social media as a form of advertisement in the future as well. So, when it comes to advertising yourself, actors and entrepreneurs are in the same boat.
There are similar aspects with creators of a show, like Bryan himself. As mentioned prior, Bryan is the creator of the show Youthful Daze, which is similar to business-oriented entrepreneurs because it is something they created on their own with the same risks in place. For actors, some of the main risks that come with the creative side of show-business (i.e., content creation) have to do with finances, reputation, new business opportunities, and talent, according to an article by Risk and Insurance. If something goes awry in a content creator’s business, they may also be liable for the third-party fallout, including loss of sponsorships and even lawsuits. On the other hand, business-oriented entrepreneurs face similar consequences if their work goes awry. Investopedia explains that entrepreneurs face financial, technological, reputational, potential business opportunities, and environmental/political risks. Business mishaps have great risks that are similar to those of content creators/actors. Both face severe financial impacts and societal impacts that they may have a hard time coming back from.
While the risks associated with entrepreneurs and actors may seem scary, it is important to note that risk-taking has pros and cons. This should serve as a reminder to plan your business endeavors to minimize the potential risks. Without thorough plans, the risks may be greater than the benefits, which no one wants.
“Just Do It” – Nike
As we have seen through Bryan James, entrepreneurship can be achieved through many different outlets. The underlying factor between all entrepreneurs is how their work ethic is executed—utilizing our modern-day resources such as new aid medicine and social media to grow as an individual and as a business provides longevity to entrepreneurs. One of the best things that an entrepreneur can do, aside from strategically planning their next moves, is to keep going. Even Forbes expresses the importance of perseverance, especially as the world changes due to technological advancements and societal changes. The best way to maintain a steady business is to be adaptable. If you can adapt to the ever-changing world and maintain your persistence, not much can bring you down. You are the creator of your destiny. It is easier said than done, but let go of everything holding you back. If our expert, Bryan, never took his leap of faith, he would have never created his show “Youthful Daze,” which wouldn’t have ever gotten him his Emmy nominations. If Bryan had shied away from the physical trauma that his roles gave him, he would have never been able to grow as an actor. Instead, he learned from the risks and found ways to counteract them. There is power in adaptation. What is it that is holding you back?
Cover photo courtesy of Bryan James. Photographer: Bobby Quillard.