Finding Your Path to Success in the Entertainment Industry
Are you sure you're on the right path? Do you think you should go back to school? Are you able to support yourself independently? These are all questions most of us receive every year, month, or even everyday by others NOT in the entertainment industry. I think most of us know it's a pretty tough field. Whether you are an actor, musician, model or even an expert at lighting, a director, or producer, you may have a very tough road ahead of you trying to make it in the industry. So, what does it take to make it? Some of the most important attributes of the Jay-Z's, Warren Buffett's, and Steve Jobs can really be summed up in three things. Don't get me wrong; networking at events may connect you to the right person, working unpaid gigs may also lead to important connections, knowing who you are or what exactly you want to express will give you more of an advantage in the entertainment industry (as it would in most industries), and practicing your ass off will help you become a master at your craft, however these are obvious approaches. Below are a few untold secrets that only veterans of the game know and will set you apart from every other motherfucker in this industry.
The False Notion of Competition and the importance of Teamwork
If you're like my friends and me, you may also think competition is irrelevant. A wise man once told me true competition lies within. You have to realize that competition is a business strategy thought up by corporations to profit off of the tastemakers of the industry. If you don’t believe in the wise man, maybe you will believe in Ian Connor, Travis Scott or even Kanye West. They are modern day examples of self-promotion, creating their own path and leading by example. They don’t give a fuck!! They do what they want, when they want, without regard of anyone else’s opinion. They perfected finding their niche amongst the ones who don’t fit in. That’s why competition becomes irrelevant because to the true creative mind, there is no competition that lies outside of self. The general public thrives on pinning celebrities against one another and seeing the media play up drama between two musicians. Exibit A: Meek Mills vs Drake. We have learned this competition.
Competition is what keeps the acting coaches, film schools, and academies paid. Don’t get me wrong, all these can be great help as well, but it is the industry that is profiting off of this competition. Saying: “It’s tough out there, therefor you have to learn from your competition to be set apart from the rest.” What if we are already set apart from the rest?
Have you ever been in a situation where you are caught wondering why you’re in some class listening to someone who hasn’t made it in the field they are educating you on? Anyone can be a teacher, but rarely will these so-called industry educators educate you on building your own team, how to crash the Internet, or even how to be innovative. Most corporations frown on following your own path because it can lead to inspiration and growth that may lead to superseding your superiors. They are also, in many cases, getting paid to teach you how to make a living in an industry that they did not succeed in because of whom they are funded by. Most public schools primary focus is getting their students educated enough to work a 9-5 job for the rest of their lives because corporations in fact fund them.
If you knew that the secret of your success was to simply educate yourself in the field of your desire, express yourself genuinely from your perspective, build an innovative team and work harder and smarter than you’ve ever worked, you would understand that there is no need for classes and no need to worry yourself with competition. Don’t forget we are our own competition. We are all tools for each other along this journey, not enemies. You may have also heard many of your idols preaching the importance of having a great team or hearing celebrities thanking all those who have helped them in an acceptance speech. Warren Buffett once said: “It’s better to hang with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.” In other words, build a team of people who are the best at what they do, while focusing on the best you can do. Build a team of these people who all share a common goal and you will all prosper together.
Weaknesses Can Be Strengths
Adaptation is also a key component in succeeding in your field. Although there are many others competing with one another in the same fields, everyone has the option to follow his or her own path. What I mean is whether you are a 5'8" basketball player who knows without a doubt that he wants to play pro ball with all odds against him or an ugly actor who has to act twice as hard because of their appearance. We are all given a choice to either wallow in our weaknesses or choose to become overly dedicated to strengthening our weaknesses until they become our strengths. Chris Farley for example, wasn't the most handsome actor. In fact, some might say the exact opposite, but he was funny as fuck. He played into his weaknesses like being overweight or non-attractive and made it mad funny.
Knowing Your Path
You see the key to success is never the short path or the path less treaded. I am no teacher, but to me it is knowing you will face adversities and choosing to either cry or laugh while overcoming them every time. I get a high off of facing and overcoming new obstacles or challenges. I have always been this way. Now that doesn't mean when I'm not where I want to be, I don't feel down like anyone would. It just means I always know I am still on my path and know I will conquer whatever obstacle lies in front of me. I haven't always understood my path, as it evolves from year to year but am blessed to know what it is as of today. Knowing we are or will be great in our craft is probably the most important thing to know. Whether you are an actor, musician or director, you have to know without a doubt that you can and will find a way to make a living honestly expressing your passion. Like Yoda says "there is no try, just do." If you cannot do at the moment, then patience is key until the next moment arises.