Why Great Entrepreneurs Equal Great Actors

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At first glance, acting may seem similar to your standard form of employment. But it actually mirrors callings of entrepreneurship and if you plan on having a successful acting career, it’s time to put on your entrepreneurial hard hat.

Before the information age, everything was much different. If you’re old enough to remember, the only things actors had as marketing tools were their headshot, resume, and footage of any productions they had participated in. Unless you were fortunate enough to book a network show or studio film, it was likely you’d never see your face or name in bright lights. You think making it as an actor is difficult now? Thirty years ago it was like climbing Mt. Everest!

Then came the mammoth that shocked the world: the internet. At that moment, acting as a business became a possibility for each and every one of us. Be excited that you’re in this industry at a time when creativity and opportunity are abundant. But before we get into that, let’s talk about why you should approach your career as an entrepreneur as opposed to an employee.

I got my first taste of entrepreneurship when I used to work at the AMC 20 back in Louisiana. I did every job imaginable at that place and I treated it as if I owned the entire multiplex. This was one of the greatest lessons I learned as an actor. I was meticulous in my approach to everything in regards to the theater. The only problem was that I was an employee and there was only so much I could do as far as duties and advancement. It was disappointing at first but then I realized, “Work just as hard for yourself as you have for this place and success will be inevitable.”

READ: 3 Ways to Use Your Own Life to Be a Better Actor

It was not long after that I became an actor full-time. After doing my research, what stood out to me the most was the realization that the most successful actors were the ones who treated their careers like entrepreneurs. In other words, they owned their career trajectory because they decided to take responsibility for everything that did or didn’t happen.

I took that same approach and began booking quickly. But as the captain of my ship, it didn’t stop there. I wanted to be aware of everything that went into making a production run efficiently. It was as if I was the show runner or executive producer when I wasn’t on set acting. I wanted to see all the parts that made the car run. From production to lighting to wardrobe to art department and sound, I visited everyone and picked their brains.

You may be wondering why on earth I was so curious. By knowing all the components it took to make the production run smoothly, it made me more committed to being the best actor I could be on and off camera. It was a clear indication I wasn’t someone who was hired as an employee to say a few words, eat, hang out, and be a distraction. I was an owner of a business that was connected to a bigger business and my A+ game was of the utmost importance. It was a life-changing revelation.

After that, I created aspects of my business (acting) that would reflect my brand and what I believed in. Here are a few of the steps I took to elevate my acting career to an entrepreneurial level.

1. Create a website.
This seems like a no brainer for most, but it’s something of great significance. If I meet an actor and I like his/her reel and IMDB, the next thing I want to see is their website. A website tells me and other important people in the industry that you are a brand. Most people believe your headshot and resume are your calling cards, but it’s actually your website. It contains everything that makes you look, feel, and act like a business.

READ: 8 Elements All Actors’ Websites Need

2. Create a YouTube channel.
Here’s one of the biggest secrets production won’t tell you: They search YouTube for talent. What’s more, having YouTube channel enables you to be more comfortable on camera. What could be more wonderful than building a network of fans and gaining comfort on camera? Even if you don’t have a channel, get on camera and talk about what matters most. Be yourself completely. It’s a vital component to your future performances. One year, I shot 120 videos! Anytime I was asked to be on film after that, I was always complimented on how comfortable my on-camera presence was.

3. Partner with a production company.
If you’ve never heard of this before, you should know that it’s a legitimate business step for your career. You want to act and production companies can always use extra help. You can offer your services a few hours a week in exchange for a role in a production. Here’s what’s so fantastic about this: You don’t have to beg anyone for anything. You’re bartering, and bartering can be an actor’s best friend early on. Help them out, show them your work ethic. From there, they will be happy to give you a role, even if it’s a bit part. Take it and build momentum!

4. Write your own scripts.
As an actor, no one knows you better than yourself. A huge part of your job is breaking down scripts so why not write a short film that magnifies your greatest qualities as an actor? Then shoot it.

5. Shoot your own stuff.
If you live in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, or Atlanta, I guarantee that almost every person in the film industry either owns a non-phone camera or has access to one. Use this to your advantage; unless their name is Spielberg, they’ll likely want the footage as much as you do. If that doesn’t work, create a thread on Reddit or Craigslist asking to collaborate. As a last resort, invest in your own camera. It’s one of the greatest decisions you can make.

You’re an entrepreneur even if you don’t know it as of yet. That’s what being an actor is all about. Take responsibility for whatever happens in your own career. Refuse to wait for your agent or manager to make a big move. Do it yourself! Ask yourself every day, “What can I do today to elevate my acting career to a more fulfilling, higher level?”

Remain patient and wait for all of the amazing ideas to reveal themselves. And who knows, your business (acting) could potentially be the next big thing!

Shaun Grant is a dynamic “entreperformer” that is a recognized authority in personal performance and transformation. He is the author of Prosperity Secrets: How To Live the Life of Your Dreams. He is also the creator of The Vibrational Actor and hosts his own podcast called The Actor's Area. Shaun has been acting, writing, and coaching for the past ten years. He teaches the concept of vibrational acting and vibrational consciousness to performers around the world. His soul purpose is to inspire, uplift and motivate actors through cutting edge mental and spiritual practices. He's at his happiest when his students experience successful breakthroughs in mind, body, and spirit as it relates to their acting careers. Shaun has acted in over forty projects, working alongside some of Hollywood's brightest stars, and has written and produced his own projects as well. When Shaun isn't acting, writing or coaching, he enjoys engaging in his love of travel and creating life-changing content through his blogs. Visit www.shaungrantacting.com and www.uplifterentertainment.com for more career information. Find Shaun on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Shaun Grant
Shaun Grant is a dynamic “entreperformer” who is a recognized authority in personal performance and transformation. Shaun has been acting, writing, and coaching for the past 10 years. He teaches the concept of vibrational acting and vibrational consciousness to performers around the world. When Shaun isn’t acting, writing, or coaching, he enjoys engaging in his love of travel and creating life-changing content through his blogs.
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